German factory production rises in December in another sign economy may be gaining steam

Germany's industrial production rose slightly in December in another sign that the key sector is gaining steam.

The Federal Statistical Office said Friday that December production was up by 0.1 percent over November, despite a drop in construction and capital goods.

That followed a 0.1 percent rise in November over October, and the first time since early 2011 that industrial production has increased for four months in a row, said ING economist Carsten Brzeski.

Germany on Thursday reported a 4.2 percent December increase in factory orders, and Brzeski says the data suggest the economy, Europe's largest, should gain more momentum in the coming months.

"The sharp drop in energy prices and the weaker euro exchange rate are without any doubt a blessing for the economy," he said.