EUROPE (OBSERVATORY) – The economy of 19 eurozone countries in the first quarter of 2018 increased by 0.4%, according to preliminary data of the Statistical Office of the European Union.
The rate of increase was the weakest since July-September 2016. The slowdown in the growth of the European economy, which is largely connected with trade risks, complicates the task of the European Central Bank, which is studying the prospects for curtailing incentive measures. Compared with October-December 2016, GDP increased by 2.5%.
The growth rates of both indicators coincided with market expectations.
According to revised data, in the fourth quarter of 2017, GDP in the euro area increased by 0.7% compared to the previous three months and by 2.8% year-on-year – in both cases by 0.1 percentage points more than previously announced ( 0.6% and 2.7% respectively).
Weakening of growth in January-March was also caused by unfavorable weather conditions and other temporary factors.
The growth of exports slowed, and some companies blame the strengthening of the euro.
In France, GDP increased by 0.3% in the 1st quarter after an increase of 0.7% in October-December, in Austria there was a weakening from 0.9% to 0.8%, in Belgium from 0.5% to 0.4%.
At the same time, Spain and Italy maintained the same growth rates as a quarter earlier: 0.7% and 0.3% respectively. Germany is expected to publish a preliminary estimate of GDP growth in the first quarter on May 15 – on the same day with revised data on GDP dynamics in the euro area.
In quarterly terms, economic growth in the euro area has lasted 20 quarters in a row. Following the results of 2017, GDP increased by 2.5%, which is the maximum increase since 2007, that is, from the times before the financial crisis.
In 28 countries of the European Union, the economic recovery in January-March was 2.4% compared to the same period a year earlier and 0.4% compared with October-December.