Millennium Post
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Piggybacking on France and Germany's expansion, Eurozone makes stronger than expected growth in Q4 of 2013

The economy of the 17 countries that shared the single currency in the last quarter rose 0.3 per cent in the three months to December against the previous three months, after a 0.1 per cent rise in the third quarter.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 0.2 per cent quarterly rise. Compared with the same period of last year, eurozone gross domestic product rose 0.5 per cent, above market expectations of a 0.4 per cent rise.

The first estimate does not provide a detailed breakdown into GDP components, which will only be available on March 5.

The 9.5 trillion euro economy contracted 0.4 per cent overall in 2013, Eurostat said. The European Commission expects it will grow 1.1 per cent in 2014.

The gradually strengthening recovery still faces downside risks, mainly from turmoil in financial markets, disinflation and the slow pace of implementation of structural reforms.

Separately, Eurostat data showed the bloc's December foreign trade surplus grew to 13.9 billion euros from 9.8 billion euros in the same period last year, driven by a 4 per cent year-on-year rise in exports, as imports rose only 1 per cent.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 15.0 billion euro surplus in December, following a revised 17.0 billion euro surplus in November.

The eurozone's full year external trade surplus more than doubled to 153.8 billion euros last year, from 79.7 billion euros in 2012, with exports rising 1 per cent and imports falling 3 per cent.
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