Eurozone recovery gathers pace

Economic recovery in the eurozone is outpacing both the UK and US economies with the single-currency bloc growing by 0.4% between January and March this year, it was reported on Friday.

This recovery was reportedly boosted by a return to growth in France and Italy. The French economy exceeded expectations by expanding by 0.6% in the first quarter, following zero growth in the previous quarter, while Italy’s GDP grew by 0.3%. Spain’s economy expanded by 0.9% in the same period.

Growth in the UK unexpectedly halved to 0.3% in the first three months of this year and the US economy was stagnant with growth of just 0.1%.

Also, growth in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has more than halved to 0.3% when compared to 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2014. Net trade was said to be a drag, with imports growing at a faster rate than exports.

Greece returned to recession, with its economy shrinking by 0.2% in the first three quarter of 2016, which followed a 0.4% fall in GDP in the previous quarter.

According to the BBC, Eurostat figures also revealed that the eurozone’s unemployment rate dropped to 10.2% in March, the lowest rate for four-and-a-half years.

Latest figures are said to indicate that the economy in the eurozone is now larger than it was before the start of the financial crisis eight years ago. Lower oil prices have been of benefit to the eurozone, while looser governmental budgetary policies have resulted in resources being freed up in some of the region’s debt-laden economies.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is aiming to keep the headline inflation close to, but below, 2%. It cut interest rates further in March this year and expanded its bond-buying stimulus programme in an attempt to drive growth in the eurozone and push up inflation.