Europe News

No scary Friday the 13th for Europe but jitters remain


Growth in the euro zone economy slowed in the third quarter from the second, according to new data from Eurostat, failing to meet expectations.

Preliminary gross domestic product (GDP) data for the third quarter showed the euro zone grew 0.3 percent quarter on quarter, below forecasts from analysts polled by Reuters for a 0.4 percent expansion. The economy grew 1.6 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The loss in momentum comes despite European Central Bank stimulus, in the form of its 1 trillion euro quantitative easing (QE) program, and a weakened single currency that should have boosted exports.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said the subdued pace of growth and persistent weak inflation "applies further pressure on the ECB and increases the likelihood of the further measures being announced in December."

"All eyes now turn to the ECB as it weighs up what measures to take to lift the region's growth rate higher. Further cuts to the deposit rate, an increase in both the size, quality and duration of the current QE program have all been widely mooted as possibilities," he said in a note Friday.

Earlier Friday morning, separate data showed the euro zone's two largest economies grew 0.3 percent in the third quarter, with activity driven by domestic consumption.

France's economy expanded from a flat base in the second quarter but Germany showed a slowdown from the second quarter when gross domestic product grew by 0.4 percent. The figures matched analyst expectations.

The European Commission's statistics agency is set to release growth figures for the euro zone as a whole later on Friday. The figures will indicate the direction of travel for the 19-country single currency economy after a slowdown in the second quarter to growth of 0.4 percent on the previous three months.

While JPMorgan Analyst Greg Fuzesi noted Friday that both figures had "come in a bit better than we had expected," not all economists were appeased by the data.

Xavier Arnau | Getty Images

"No Friday 13th moment for the German economy," Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, said in a note Friday. "(But) today's GDP data are no relief. They only show that consumption on the back of low interest rates, a strong labor market, low inflation and higher wages are still able to offset industrial and export weakness."

Despite the weak euro, Brzeski noted that German industry had not yet managed to "accelerate and shift up a gear."

"In fact, the summer weakness of the German industry seems to be more substantial than only a vacation-driven soft spell. The turmoil in emerging markets and the Chinese slowdown have finally left some marks on the German economy," he said.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld

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