Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, grew a larger-than-expected 0.3% in the second quarter from the previous three-month period as consumer spending and strong exports helped stave off effects of Europe’s debt crisis, the Federal Statistical Office said Tuesday.
The consensus in the markets was that Germany’s economy would grow by only 0.2% during the quarter, down from the 0.5 % recorded in the first three months of the year.
A clearer breakdown of the quarterly performance will not emerge until later this month. However, the statistics office said exports and public consumption combined with lower unemployment to lift growth. One downbeat indicator was a fall in investment in machinery and equipment, a possible sign that firms are getting less confident about the future.
“The economy remains the stronghold of the eurozone ??”however, another strong quarter merely glosses over the fact that even the stronghold has already caught the euro crisis virus,” said Carsten Brzeski, an economist with ING bank in Brussels. Nevertheless, the better than expected performance news helped boost the euro, which was up 0.2% to $1.2357 in morning trading.
The German economy has so far managed to withstand the effects emanating from the debt crisis on its doorstep but many economists are worried it will soon be dragged down as well. With many euro countries in recession, demand for Germany’s high-value exports may start to falter.
“Please keep in mind that about 40 % of all German exports are shipped to eurozone countries,” said UniCredit economist Andreas Rees.
The 17-country eurozone a whole is expected to have contracted 0.2% in the second quarter ??” figures are due out later. However, the better than expected German figures coupled with news that France’s economy did not contract during the quarter as had been widely feared, may help the eurozone avoid shrinking during the quarter. A number of euro countries, including Greece, Spain and Italy are already in recession ??” officially defined as two consecutive quarters of shrinking output.
The German government is predicting overall growth of 0.7% this year, though others, like the International Monetary Fund and Germany’s central bank, are forecasting slightly more robust gains.
In Brussles ,Europe edged closer to recession Tuesday after official figures showed the region’s output shrank 0.2% in the second quarter of the year.
Had Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office, also recorded a contraction in the first quarter too, instead of staying flat, the region would be in recession ??” officially defined as two straight quarters of falling output.
The continued strength of Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, helped lift the region out of another recession. Its economy grew by a quarterly rate of 0.3 % in the second quarter. Though down on the 0.5% recorded in the first quarter, the advance was a little more than expected ??” most economists thought Germany would only grow by 0.2%.
Though Germany continues to benefit from a still-growing global economy, its high-value exporters are finding it increasingly difficult to tap international markets. The other 16 countries that use the euro are its biggest market and six of them are in recession. The U.S. is also coming off the boil, with growth in the second quarter down at a quarterly rate of 0.4%, according to Eurostat.
Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal are all in recession and all five are at the front-line of Europe’s debt crisis. Bailed out Ireland could join the grouping when it publishes its second-quarter figures.