THE EUROZONE economy picked up in the first quarter of the year, overtaking Britain’s unexpectedly sluggish GDP figures.
France’s turnaround was among the most remarkable – its economy grew by 0.6 per cent in the three-month period, double the estimated 0.3 per cent in the UK.
Under Francoise Hollande, the French economy dived into recession across 2012 and 2013.
In the final quarter of 2014 the economy did not grow at all, before a remarkable spurt in the three months to March.
Other troubled economies also picked up. Italy registered growth of 0.3 per cent, compared with flat or negative GDP numbers in the previous three quarters.
Spanish growth accelerated from 0.7 per cent to 0.9 per cent, meaning the previously recession-ridden state grew by a healthy 2.6 per cent in the past 12 months.
By contrast Germany, previously the only big economy keeping the Eurozone’s head above water, saw GDP growth slow from 0.7 per cent at the end of 2014 to 0.3 per cent.
Economist Janet Henry at HSBC said: “We expect [the full details next month] to show that consumer spending, boosted by sharply lower oil prices and stabilising labour markets, was the main driver.
The more volatile industrial production index showed a fall in March of 0.3 per cent in the Eurozone, following a one per cent rise in February.
But on the year, the growth was more robust at 1.8 per cent.