Euro zone industrial output continued weaker in January, official data showed today, but the underlying trend appears consistent with a very modest economic recovery in the single-currency bloc.

Industrial output in the 18-nation euro zone fell 0.2% in January after a sharper drop of 0.4% in December when it had 17 members, the Eurostat statistics agency said.

However, in the full 28-country European Union, industrial output was up 0.1%, returning to positive territory after a drop of 0.4% in December, Eurostat said.

Compared with January 2013, euro zone industrial output was up 2.1% while the EU gained 2.4%. 

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, saw a rise of 0.4% in January, more than reversing a fall of 0.1% percent in December while struggling France was down 0.3%, still better than the previous month's drop of 0.5%. 

Industrial output in Britain was up 0.1% after a gain of 0.5% in December. 

The euro zone escaped a record 18-month recession in the second quarter with overall economic growth of 0.3% but this slowed to a marginal 0.1% in the third before picking up again to 0.3% in the last three months of the year.