Wednesday 15 May 2019 11:28 am

European growth aided by UK expansion and German bounce-back

Growth in the Eurozone and European Union picked up in the first quarter of the year after a rough patch, with the UK showing solid expansion, the EU’s official statistics body confirmed today.

Read more: Euro rises as Eurozone economy shows stronger-than-expected growth

GDP growth in the EU rose to 0.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter, after growing 0.3 per cent in the previous quarter. The UK economy grew 0.5 per cent, the second-highest rate among the biggest economies.

Today’s figures confirm the estimates Eurostat, the EU’s data body, made two weeks ago.

Germany’s struggling economy grew 0.4 per cent, a return to growth after stagnating in the final quarter of 2018 and shrinking by 0.2 per cent in the quarter before that, figures released this morning by Germany’s statistics organisation showed.

The growth brought Germany’s annual price-adjusted growth rate to 0.6 per cent, reflecting the torrid time the country’s manufacturers have had amid a global slowdown and tougher car emissions tests.

Andrew Scott, associate director at risk advisor JCRA, said: “German GDP data for the first quarter provided reasons to be hopeful that Europe’s largest economy isn’t headed for a protracted downturn.”

The Eurozone doubled its growth rate to 0.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter, compared to 0.2 per cent in the last three months of 2018.

Europe’s economy has suffered recently in the face of US-China trade tensions, weak German output, and Brexit.

Italy escaped recession by posting quarter-on-quarter growth of 0.2 per cent in the first quarter, Eurostat figures confirmed. Its economy had shrunk by 0.2 per cent in the previous two quarters.

Spain posted the best figures among Europe’s largest economies, with 0.7 per cent quarterly growth. This took its annual growth rate to 2.4 per cent.

The Eurozone economy grew at a rate of 1.2 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter, while the EU grew 1.5 per cent.

Nancy Curtin, chief investment officer of Close Brothers Asset Management, said: “Growth in the EU continues to beat expectations, proving the disastrous beginning of the year to be an anomaly.”

Read more: Eurozone inflation beats expectations in April

She said: “While the region has a long way to go, things are looking up. The services and housebuilding sectors are doing better than expected, Eurozone unemployment is at a ten year low, and wage growth is beginning to improve.”