BERLIN, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The German economy grew by a weaker than expected 0.4 percent in 2013, a preliminary estimate from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Wednesday
The reading compared with a consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of 18 economists for expansion in gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.5 percent.
Germany has been a pillar of strength throughout the euro zone crisis but growth slowed to 0.7 percent in 2012 and the economy skirted recession at the start of 2013 before picking up steam from the second quarter on.
Economists expect the German economy to crank up a gear this year, forecasting growth of between 1.2 and 2.0 percent.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Noah Barkin)