German economy edges up 0.2%

FEELING THE PINCH::Fellow eurozone member France steered clear of a recession by posting 0.2 percent growth, while Spain saw its recession dragged into a fifth quarter

Agencies, BERLIN and PARIS

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 15

The eurozone debt crisis is taking its toll on Germany, Europe’s largest economy, which ground to a near-halt in the third quarter of the year, official figures showed yesterday.

Germany’s economy grew a mere 0.2 percent in the July-to-September period compared with the previous quarter, according to provisional data published by federal statistics office Destatis.

The figures were in line with expectations. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had expected Germany to register growth of 0.2 percent.

Destatis offered no detailed breakdown of the figures, but recent data have suggested that Germany, until now largely immune from the crisis, is increasingly feeling the pinch.

However, the statistics office did say that the positive drivers of the economy “came from abroad,” with exports outpacing imports.

Domestically, private and public consumption appeared to have held up, as did construction, but investments were down.

Unlike most of its recession-wracked partners in the 17-nation eurozone, Germany registered relatively healthy growth of 0.5 percent in the first quarter of the year, dipping to 0.3 percent in the second.

However, analysts have warned for some time that demand for Germany’s all-important exports — most of which go to fellow European countries — must eventually dry up as the crisis bites.

Separately, France’s economy narrowly avoided a recession, growing slightly in the third quarter, according to official statistics released yesterday.

The French economy has not recorded growth since the third quarter of last year and had been widely expected to start its slide into recession in the third quarter — technically defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP.

Instead, Insee, the national statistics agency, said GDP rose 0.2 percent on an annualized basis in the July-to-September period.

However, the agency also revised down figures for the second quarter, saying the economy shrank 0.1 percent then. It had previously said growth was stagnant, as it had been for the previous two quarters.

Meanwhile, Spain said its recession dragged into a fifth quarter even as the EU endorsed the country’s efforts to reduce the second-biggest deficit in the eurozone, removing an obstacle blocking the path to a sovereign bailout.

GDP fell 0.3 percent in the three months through September from the previous quarter, when it declined 0.4 percent, the Madrid-based National Statistics Institute said yesterday, confirming an Oct. 30 estimate.

The Spanish GDP report showed that investment dropped 1.4 percent in the third quarter from the second, while exports of goods and services rose 4.8 percent. Government spending declined 2.4 percent after decreasing 0.6 percent in the previous three months. It fell 3.9 percent from a year ago.