German growth remains robust in fourth quarter

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Euro zone industrial production jumped more than expected in December, data from the European Union statistics office Eurostat showed on Wednesday, underlining the fastest economic growth rate in a decade that economists expect to continue in 2018.

The GDP of Germany, the euro zone's biggest economy, grew 0.6 per cent on the quarter and 2.9 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, with France at 0.6 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively and Spain at 0.7 and 3.1 per cent respectively.

Fourth-quarter growth was driven by a strong increase in exports, with total trade making a positive contribution, according to the report.

The slight slowdown from the 0.7 per cent expansion in the third quarter was less than previously thought, with 0.59 quarter-on-quarter growth, above the 0.56 per cent previously thought.

On a yearly basis, GDP growth eased slightly to 2.7 percent from 2.8 percent in the preceding period.

Overall in 2017, the eurozone grew by 2.5%, Eurostat said, the fastest growth rate since a 3% rise in 2007.

Eurostat said industrial production in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.4 per cent month-on-month for a 5.2 per cent year-on-year gain.

France also expanded by 0.6%, while Spanish growth was a notch stronger at 0.7%.

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Private-sector analysts like those at Berenberg or Commerzbank dangle the prospect of even faster growth of 2.5 percent or more.

The EU and the 19-nation eurozone both grew by 0.6% in the final quarter of past year.

We look for euro area Q4 GDP to be confirmed at 0.6% q/q, with growth primarily supported by domestic demand, and in particular a rebound in investment.

Sarah Hewin, chief economist Europe at Standard Chartered, said: "Activity is being supported by strong global growth, which is helping European exporters".

Likewise, the forecast for next year was upgraded to 2 percent from 1.9 percent.

"The third quarter was not surpassed, but nobody expected it to be, given that production was hampered by the large number of seasonal holidays in Q4", Joerg Zeuner, chief economist at the state-owned KfW banking group said about the findings.

"Looking ahead, surveys suggest that the region's upturn will gather pace", said Stephen Brown, European economist at Capital Economics. Nevertheless, the economic outlook is bright.

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