BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Net exports, investment and consumption drove euro zone economic growth in the last quarter of 2018, data showed on Thursday, offseting a sharp drop in inventories.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat confirmed its earlier estimate that gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.2 percent quarter on quarter in the October-December period.
It revised down to 1.1 percent the year-on-year number for the fourth quarter from 1.2 percent estimated in February.
The numbers confirm a slowdown in the euro zone economy from the more robust growth rates in the first and second quarters of 2018 — a factor which markets expect the European Central Bank to take into account by phasing out more slowly its monetary stimulus to the economy.
Eurostat said household and government consumption added 0.1 percentage point each to the final quarterly growth result and investment also added 0.1 point. Net trade gave an additional 0.2 points helping offset a 0.4 point drop in inventories.
Employment in the euro zone rose 0.3 percent on the quarter and 1.3 percent year-on-year, with the highest number of jobs added in construction and information and communication services and the biggest number of jobs disappearing in agriculture, forestry and fishing, arts, entertainment and financial and insurance activities.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; edited by Francesco Guarascio)