Europe Economy

Recession obsession: Traders brace for euro zone GDP


Already battered by a debt crisis in 2011 and fears of further stagnation, Europe's governments and investors will be nervously awaiting growth figures due Friday to see whether the euro zone is once again on the edge of recession.

In the second quarter of 2013, the 18-country bloc that uses the euro managed to post positive growth for the first time since 2011. However, the road since has been uneven and rocky with diminishing demand plaguing the region alongside geopolitical concerns with tensions in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Economists at French bank Credit Suisse see no sign that the area will move out of a low gear, despite the European Central Bank looking to add more stimulatory measures to boost lending.

Read MoreECB survey downgrades inflation, growth forecasts

"Survey indicators may be bottoming, but hard data suggest the recovery is still insipid," analysts at the bank said in a research note this week. They predict that Friday's number will show gross domestic product (GDP) edging higher by just 0.1 percent from the quarter before, after a flat figure for the previous period.

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That aligns with the average estimate from a Reuters poll of 50 economists this week, although some more bearish experts in the survey are predicting that it could surprise with a figure of minus 0.1 percent.

Claus Vistesen, the chief euro zone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, is predicting a slight uptick in growth, with what he says will be a small uptick in both Spain and France, alongside "decent" consumption in the region. On the downside, he believes that the Germany - traditionally known as the engine room of Europe - will drag that headline figure down.

Industrial production numbers and retail sales in the central European nation have been soft in the last quarter. On Wednesday, an index of selling prices for wholesale trade in Germany showed a drop of 0.7 percent last month, further accentuating fears that it would be unable to claw back a dismal a GDP figure last quarter of -0.2 percent.

Read More

Germany not at risk of recession: Merkel's Wise Man

Investors will be eyeing the number carefully, with another negative figure on Friday compounding the problems in the country further, and would mean Germany would be suffering a "technical recession" with two consecutive periods of negative growth.

Christoph Schmidt, the chair of the German Council of Economic Experts - and known as one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's "wise men" - is optimistic that this will not happen – a Reuters poll is predicting a 0.1 percent improvement - and told CNBC Wednesday that there is no risk of the country sliding into recession.

"We are not talking about a recession, yet," he said, although he conceded that it was disappointing that a recovery has not really materialized.

Read MoreFears of German recession as moment of truth looms

As well as the problems surrounding Germany's reliance trade with sanctions-hit Russia, he believes that weak euro zone demand has stifled the economic upturn and a package of reforms by Merkel - which has included changes to labor markets, social security and energy - has failed to meet the intended consequences.

Flash GDP data for Germany is due out on Friday at 7.00 a.m. London time with the number for the euro zone due at 10.00 a.m.

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