Euro zone industrial output edged higher in February, according to official data, in line with recent data showing a very modest economic recovery in the single currency bloc.

The activity of the industrial sector is closed watched in the euro zone where there is deep concern in some countries about the low competitiveness of industry, particularly on export markets.

Industrial output in the 18-nation euro zone rose 0.2% compared with the level in January when it was flat, the Eurostat statistics agency said.

The January outcome was originally given as a fall of 0.2%.

Compared with February 2013, euro zone industrial output was up 1.7% while the EU rose 2.1%.

Industrial production figures are volatile but analysts said today’s figures were consistent with a slow pick-up in an economy still struggling for traction after a record 18-month recession ended in second quarter 2013.

Capital Economics said the report "confirmed that the sector has made a weak start to 2014 and highlighted the slow and fragile recovery both in industry and in the euro zone economy as a whole."

The 0.2% gain in February was in line with forecasts but "is still disappointing given that production declined in December and was stable in January," it said.

While there "are signs that the industrial sector may start to fare slightly better in the months ahead," it said, "lacklustre consumer demand ... and a strong euro suggest that any recovery is likely to remain very sluggish."

In Paris, the governor of the Bank of France Christian Noyer, who sits on the policy council of the European Central Bank, said that the euro was "abnormally strong" given the state of the economic cycle in the euro zone and given that the region was lagging behind other regions in terms of growth.

Separately the new French Finance Minister Michel Sapin repeated the line of the new French government that the euro was too strong and this was a handicap for growth in France.

Eurostat said that in the full 28-member European Union, industrial output gained 0.4% in February, after a rise of 0.2% in January.

Ireland was up 5% after a 0.3% fall in January; the second biggest level of growth last month behind Malta.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, was up 0.4% after a gain of 0.3% in January while France returned to positive territory with a rise of 0.2% after a fall of 0.4%.

Spain jumped 0.7% compared with 0.2% while Italy slumped 0.5% after a strong gain of 1.1% in January.

Non-euro Britain rose a sharp 0.9% after a flat performance in January.