Monday , February 26 2018

Eurozone economy growth hits highest in decade – Britain falls behind European partners

BRUSSELS, Jan 30, (AFP): Growth in the eurozone shot up in 2017, putting Europe at the centre of a global recovery and on par with levels last seen before the financial crisis a decade ago, official data said Tuesday.

Europe’s economic recovery roared on despite the uncertainty around Brexit, with the economies in the 19-country area that uses the euro lifted by a resurgent France and Spain.

Economic growth in the eurozone hit 2.5 percent, far ahead of the 1.8 percent reached a year earlier, the EU’s Eurostat statistics agency said.

The level, which was also matched by the 28-member EU as a whole, was the highest since 2007 when the eurozone economy hit growth of 3.0 percent, just before the financial crisis implosion.

The data lend support to a rosy outlook given by the IMF last week, which said the global economy will expand at 3.9 percent this year and next, with advanced economies achieving simultaneous growth in a convergence not seen since the crisis.

In the European Union as a whole, growth also increased by 2.5 percent in 2017 and by 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

“While detailed breakdowns have yet to be released, it seems that the eurozone economy continues to fire on all cylinders,” said Bert Colijn, an economist at ING bank.

European officials will celebrate the latest data as the best indication yet that the eurozone debt crisis is safely in the past and that any Brexit effects remain under control.

“Eurozone growth was faster than the US and now stands nearly a full percentage point above that of the UK,” said Jasper Lawler of the London Capital Group.

“The momentum in Europe’s economy goes a long way to explain bullish attitudes towards the euro and European stocks,” he added.

The British economy badly fell behind its European partners in 2017, recording slower growth of 1.8 percent, Britain’s weakest annual rate since 2012.

The French economy, long a laggard in Europe, meanwhile notched up its fastest growth in six years in 2017, expanding by 1.9 percent, driven largely by investment. The eurozone result came in higher than the US, where recent data showed that the world’s biggest economy grew 2.3 percent in 2017, below President Donald Trump’s three percent goal.

The world’s number two economy China, grew a forecast-beating 6.9 percent in 2017, picking up steam for the first time since 2010.

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