Eurozone recovery still slow, but Germany and France doing better than expected

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Eurozone recovery still slow, but Germany and France doing better than expected

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It may be weak, but eurozone growth continues.

Indeed it was slightly stronger-than-expected in the bloc’s two biggest economies – Germany and France – in the final three months of last year.

Analysts said the growth was mainly driven by exports and investment.

German GDP expanded 0.4 percent from the previous quarter, France’s by 0.3 percent and Italy’s by 0.1 percent

The figures, from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, show 0.3 percent growth region-wide compared to the previous quarter.

Upwardly revised third quarter numbers meant France managed to avoid slipping back into recession and had growth of 0.3 percent for the whole of last year.

French company and public investment rose and household spending recovered.

But the finance minister said faster growth was needed to create more jobs with unemployment at nearly 11 percent.

Italy, which is once again in political turmoil, dragged itself back to growth for the first time since mid-2011.

But the final quarter’s 0.1 percent expansion was not enough to keep GDP from contracting by 1.9 percent over the whole of 2013.

One positive sign is that – significantly – for the first time in almost three years, all of the six largest eurozone economies did manage quarterly expansions.

However analysts remained cautious about the potential for this year, given record high unemployment, a slowdown in emerging market economies and the relatively strong euro.