Eurozone GDP Growth Gains Strength; Inflation Accelerates
Eurozone inflation hit a near four-year high in January following an increase in energy prices.
But the eurozone's economic powerhouse has recently outpaced its neighbours in the 19-nation single currency area, with the 1.7 percent inflation it recorded in December higher than the bloc-wide average of 1.1 percent.
Another report from Eurostat today revealed that the Eurozone unemployment rate fell to the lowest in more than seven years in December.
The economy likely stabilised at 1.7 percent y/y (0.4 percent q/q) in the last quarter of 2016, also taking 2016 GDP growth to 1.7 percent.
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While the highest unemployment rates were seen in Greece 23.0% (figure for October) and Spain (18.4%).
Previously released figures indicate Germany's economic growth rate accelerated to 0.5% from 0.2% in the third quarter, while Spain's growth rate remained steady at 0.7%.
Over the whole year 2016, GDP grew 1.7% in the euro area and by 1.9% in the EU28.
Youth unemployment in the eurozone still stood at a very high 20.9 percent, though this was lower than the 21.8 percent posted a year earlier.
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Mario Draghi, the ECB's president, announced last December that the central bank would extend its bond buying programme until the end of this year, even as policymakers reduced monthly purchases to €60bn-a-month.
The French economy picked up speed in the final quarter of 2016, after a lacklustre performance in the previous two, thanks to consumer and investment spending.
Germany, the EU's biggest economy, has long grumbled about European Central Bank policy, objecting that the stimulus, along with low interest rates, hurts savers and encourages overspending governments to delay much needed belt-tightening. Clothing chain H&M advanced 5.5% in Stockholm after posting an unexpected increase in pre-tax profit for the fourth quarter of a year ago and setting a new target for local-currency sales to increase at a pace of 10% to 15% annually, Reuters reported. Critics say that the policy punishes savers, who get no return on conservative holdings such as bank deposits, and supports indebted governments with cheap borrowing costs.
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Jan 28 2017