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Financial News: Eurozone Maintains Growth Momentum In Q1

Eurozone Maintains Growth Momentum In Q1

05/03/2017 - 07:57:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Eurozone economic growth held steady in the first quarter of the year, despite the uncertainty stemming from elections in some key countries, preliminary estimates from Eurostat revealed Wednesday.

Gross domestic product of the 19-nation currency bloc expanded 0.5 percent sequentially, the same pace of growth as seen in the fourth quarter of 2016. Growth was in line with economists' expectations.

The fourth quarter growth was revised up marginally from 0.4 percent.

On a yearly basis, GDP growth slowed slightly to 1.7 percent from 1.8 percent in the preceding quarter. The annual rate also matched expectations.

The healthy growth was very much driven by domestic-demand, with consumer spending and business investment playing a key role, IHS Markit economist Howard Archer said.

The first-quarter Eurozone growth performance reinforces belief that the European Central Bank will likely drop the reference to lower interest rates in its forward guidance at its June meeting, Archer added.

At the April meeting, ECB Chief Mario Draghi said the recovery is now solid and broad. He said incoming data confirm that the cyclical recovery of the bloc is becoming increasingly solid and that downside risks have further diminished.

Jack Allen at Capital Economics expects the central bank to continue its asset purchases this year as planned despite the sustained healthy growth. The tapering is likely to be in 2018 and raising interest rates only in 2019, the economist said.

The EU28 grew 0.4 percent from the prior quarter, when it advanced 0.6 percent. The annual growth rate remained stable at 1.9 percent in the first quarter.

The expenditure-side breakdown of GDP is not available nor the details of individual economies.

However, data released by member nations showed a mixed trend. Spain's economic growth improved to 0.8 percent in the first quarter from 0.7 percent a quarter ago. Meanwhile, growth in France eased to 0.3 percent from 0.5 percent.

Austria's economy expanded 0.5 percent sequentially, but slightly slower than prior quarter's 0.6 percent expansion.

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