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Eurozone's longest-ever recession comes to an end

Associated Press     August 14, 2013
The recession in the Eurozone came to an end in the second quarter of the year.

Eurostat, the European Union's statistics office, on Wednesday said the 17 European Union countries that use the euro saw their collective economic output grow by 0.3 per cent in the April-June period from the previous quarter.

That's the first quarterly growth rate since the Eurozone slipped into recession in the final quarter of 2011. The ensuing recession of six quarters was the longest to afflict the Eurozone since the euro currency was launched in 1999.

The quarterly improvement made up for the previous quarter's equivalent decline and was moderately better than the 0.2 per cent anticipated in the markets.

Despite the growth recorded during the quarter, the Eurozone economy remains 0.7 per cent smaller compared with the second quarter last year. However, that's still an improvement on the 1.1 per cent annual contraction seen in the first quarter.

The figures will be greeted with a sigh of relief by Europe's policymakers, who have spent nearly four years grappling with a debt crisis that has threatened the very future of the euro.

The improvement was largely due to solid economic growth of 0.7 per cent in Germany and a surprisingly strong 0.5 per cent bounce-back in France.

And aside from Europe's top two economies , there were signs of stabilization elsewhere, notably in Portugal, which grew by a surprising 1.1 per cent. Spain and Italy saw the pace of their economic contractions slow.

There was even evidence that the recession in Greece, the country at the heart of Europe's debt crisis, is easing, too. Eurostat doesn't publish quarterly figures for Greece. It only has annual comparisons and they showed that the year-on-year contraction eased to 4.6 per cent in the second quarter from 5.6 per cent in the first.

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