The euro zone economy grew by more than the US in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, data showed today.

The figures support the European Central Bank's move to begin reducing its bond-buying programme. 

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat confirmed its estimate from October 31 that the gross domestic product (GDP) of the euro zone grew by 0.6% in the months from July to September from the previous three months.

It was 2.5% higher than in the same period of 2016. 

The US economy grew 0.7% quarter-on-quarter and 2.3% year-on-year in the third quarter. 

The euro zone growth rate also exceeded that of Britain, which will leave the European Union in March 2019. 

Its economy expanded 0.4% quarter-on-quarter and 1.5% year-on-year. 

Separately, Eurostat said euro zone industrial production fell by 0.6% month-on-month in September as expected by markets.

But it rose 3.3% year-on-year, slightly beating economists' average forecast of a 3.2% increase. 

In October, the ECB took its first step towards weaning the euro zone off ultra-loose money by saying that from January it will halve the amount of bonds it buys every month to €30 billion. 

It nevertheless promised years of stimulus and left the door open to backtracking.