Eurozone growth revised back up to 0.6%

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The rate of eurozone economic growth for the first quarter of 2016 has been revised back up to 0.6%, raising hopes of recovery in the 19-nation bloc.

The Eurostat statistics agency said its final estimate was supported by stronger household spending and business investment, and gave a year-on-year growth figure of 1.7%.

The initial growth estimate had been 0.6%, which was then revised to 0.5%.

For the fourth quarter of 2015, growth was also revised up to 0.4% from 0.3%.

The rate of growth in the January-to-March quarter matched the level in the first three months of 2015, a pace only surpassed at the start of 2011, when the eurozone economy raced ahead at 0.9%.

Quarter-on-quarter growth was at a healthy 0.7% in Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy, 0.6% in France and 0.3% in Italy.

The only eurozone nation suffering contraction was Greece, whose economy shrank by 0.5%.

For the European Union bloc of 28 countries, total economic growth was 0.5% in the first quarter, Eurostat said. Growth in the fourth quarter of 2015 was also 0.5%.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said there were plenty of “positives” in the data. However, he warned that “global economic uncertainties and problems are still a handicap for eurozone growth.”

Weak consumer confidence, sluggish exports, the threat of terrorism, and the prospect of the UK leaving the EU, were weighing on future growth, he said.

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