Euro zone officials received a slew of good news on Tuesday morning with stronger-than-expected growth and inflation figures and a falling unemployment rate.
The 19-member economy saw GDP (gross domestic product) growth of 0.5 percent in the last quarter of 2016 compared to the previous three-month period, and the preliminary figures also showed a 1.8 percent rise compared to the previous year. As a result, in the whole of 2016, the euro area grew 1.7 percent.
This means that for the first time since 2008, during the height of the global financial crisis, the euro area's GDP rose at a faster pace than the U.S., according to official data. Last week U.S. authorities said the economy grew only 1.6 percent in 2016, its weakest pace since 2011.
Meanwhile, flash inflation data projected a rate of 1.8 percent for January, up from 1.1 percent in December. The increase is largely due to higher energy prices, according to the EU's statistics provider Eurostat. The flash estimate comes close to theEuropean Central Bank's target of putting inflation close but below 2 percent.
The ECB has denied calls to start tightening its monetary policy, but some members have expressed that the time to consider the so-called "tapering" of its quantitative easing program is coming.