Economic growth in the euro zone overtook the U.S. in the first quarter, posting its fastest rate in almost two years, official data released Wednesday show.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the 19-member euro area rose 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter and 1 percent year-on-year. That compares with analyst expectations for a 0.5 percent quarterly rise and 1.1 percent annual increase as slower growth from Germany weighed.
Still, the quarterly expansion was the strongest since the second quarter of 2013, while the annual rate was higher than the 0.2 percent annual rate notched up by the U.S. economy in the first quarter.
"When the US economy practically stalls in the first quarter and Japan's is still struggling to pull out of recession, quarterly growth of 0.4 percent in the ailing euro zone looks positively sprightly," Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy, said in a note.
"For the first time since the euro zone crisis escalated dramatically in the middle of 2011, Europe's single currency area is showing signs of meaningful growth. The bloc's four largest economies are at least expanding which is quite a feat considering where the euro zone stood at the end of last year amid fears of a Japanese-style deflationary spiral," he added.