BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The euro zone’s annual economic growth rate outstripped that of the US in the third quarter, setting up 2017 as the best year for the currency area since financial markets crashed a decade ago.
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Germany was a major factor, but even some of the bloc’s laggards, such as Italy, showed signs of revival.
Eurostat, the EU statistics office, confirmed a preliminary estimate that euro zone gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.6 percent from July to September from the previous quarter and on a year on year basis was 2.5 percent higher.
This was higher than the 2.3 percent year-on-year rate for the US economy, which had been growing faster than the euro zone. The US quarterly numbers were slightly better than the euro zones at 0.7 percent, however.
“A robust labour market recovery, growing export markets, an accommodative monetary stance, improving lending conditions and modest inflation are but a few of the tailwinds that the euro zone economy is experiencing,” ING economist Bert Colijn said.
“Because of that, this could well be its strongest year for growth since 2007. The euro zone will likely outpace both the US and UK in terms of GDP growth in 2017,” he said.
Euro zone GDP grew 3.0 percent in 2007, and reached 2.1 percent in 2010 and 2015.
Partly as a result of the growth, euro zone investments have turned in one of their best years since the single currency was born in 1999, confounding many who had bet on the bloc to be the disaster play of 2017.
The strong euro zone growth was powered by the biggest economy Germany, which shifted into an even higher gear in the third quarter, propelled by buoyant exports and rising company investments in equipment.
Seasonally adjusted German GDP rose 0.8 percent on the quarter, beating a consensus forecast of 0.6 percent, which was also the second-quarter growth rate.
Second biggest France grew 0.5 percent on the quarter and 2.2 percent in annual terms and the third biggest Italy beat expectations with a 0.5 percent quarterly, and 1.8 percent annual growth, supported by exports and domestic demand.