According to the flash estimate economic growth in the eurozone in the first quarter of 2017 amounted to +0.6 per cent compared to the previous quarter. Thus with growth of +0.7 per cent the dynamic rate of growth compared to the previous quarter was not quite maintained, though we saw the end of a strong fiscal 2017 overall. Economic growth for the currency area as a whole amounted to 2.5 per cent compared to the previous year. This is the best result since 2007! As for most of the individual countries, however, no details have yet been announced by Eurostat.
Economic prospects for the eurozone are thus very positive as at the beginning of 2018. The eurozone economy goes into 2018 with quite a bit of momentum. This is also reinforced by our DZ BANK Euro Indicator. The leading indicator for the business climate in the eurozone rose by +0.2 per cent in January 2018. It is now at 101.6 points, which is +2.2 per cent higher than a year ago. Other leading survey-based indicators are similarly at levels which promise continuation of the strong upturn.
The German economy grew by +0.6 per cent in the final quarter and by +2.2 per cent over the full year. Compared to the third quarter the most important stimuli came from the net export balance, as according to information supplied by the German Federal Statistical Office the rise in exports clearly exceeded growth in imports. While the state increased its consumption spending, there were hardly any changes in private consumer spending. Rather more was invested in plant and equipment than in the previous quarter, and in buildings rather less. The exact details will not be announced until 23 February.
A glance at the other member countries shows that the economic upswing is broad-based and includes the whole currency area. In Italy Q4 growth was positive but comparatively weak with a quarterly growth rate of +0.3 per cent. By contrast the Netherlands grew at the strong rate of +0.8 per cent compared to the previous quarter, while growth in Portugal was +0.7 per cent.
Two weeks ago other national economies published their initial estimates for the final quarter. In Spain quarterly growth amounted to +0.7 per cent, the same figure as in Austria. France reported a rate of +0.6 per cent and Belgium +0.5.