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Euro zone growth revised up to highest rate in a year in Q1

BRUSSELS, June 8 (Reuters) - The euro zone economy grew by more than previously estimated in the first quarter and at its fastest rate in a year, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on Thursday, ahead of a European Central Bank meeting likely to keep policy unchanged. Eurostat said the 19-country euro zone expanded by 0.6 percent quarter-on-quarter and by 1.9 percent year-on-year. That compared with earlier estimates of 0.5 and 1.7 percent respectively. On an annualized basis, the euro zone economy was expanding at a rate of 2.3 percent in the Jan-March period, far outstripping the 1.2 percent rate of the United States. Solid economy growth but subdued inflation has left the ECB in a quandary. ECB President Mario Draghi is yet to be convinced that a recent rebound of inflation is durable because wage growth remains sluggish. The ECB is widely expected to keep policy unchanged on Thursday, including its 2.3 trillion euro ($2.6 trillion) bond-buying program and sub-zero interest rates, despite resistance from cash-rich Germany. However, the robust growth could lead the ECB to remove a reference to "downside risks" in its statement. Eurostat said household consumption contributed 0.2 percentage points and gross fixed capital formation 0.3 points and government consumption 0.1 points to the first-quarter growth figure. The contributions of external trade and inventories was neutral.

For further details of Eurostat data click on: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop)