Sluggish growth figures for Europe in the first three months of this year may not all be down to temporary factors, according to a Citi economist.
The economy of both the 19-nation single currency area and the 28-nation European Union (EU) grew by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2018. That still represents growth, but reveals a slowdown from the final three months of 2017.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by 0.7 percent in the euro area and by 0.6 percent in the wider EU28. The last time euro zone growth was as tepid was in summer 2016.
Analysts have blamed the slowdown on bad weather, noting that the construction and retail sectors are usually negatively affected during cold snaps.
Other temporary headwinds being cited for the first quarter numbers include strikes, the threat of trade wars and an early Easter holiday.
Commenting on the figures, Christian Schulz, senior European economist at Citigroup, said that while seasonal factors were in play there were potentially other areas of concern.
"Unfortunately, there are some signs that something a little bit more sinister is going on," he told CNBC on Wednesday. "If you look at when confidence indicators such as PMIs (Purchasing Managers' Index) and the German IFO index peaked, it was well before the bad weather, the threat of trade wars, Easter holidays and the U.S. tax reform."