GDP: Portugal surprises with 1.1% surge

The eurozone’s seven consecutive quarters of economic contraction has been halted by GDP growth of 0.3% in the second quarter of this year.

The core eurozone countries — France and Germany — posted growth rates of 0.5% and 0.7% respectively.

However, the biggest surprise was the 1.1% surge in GDP recorded by Portugal.

Portugal has been mired in a deep recession since it entered an EU/IMF bailout programme in early 2011.

Cyprus was the worst performing eurozone economy with a 1.3% contraction over the three-month period.

EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, said it was too soon to call the end of the crisis.

“[These] figures, when combined with other recent positive survey data are encouraging and suggest the European economy is gradually gaining momentum.

“But there is no room for any complacency. Self-congratulatory statements suggesting “the crisis is over” are not for today.

“There are still substantial obstacles to overcome: the growth figures remain low and the tentative signs of growth are still fragile; the averages hide important differences between member states, a number of member states still have unacceptably high unemployment rates; the implementation of essential but difficult reforms across the EU is still in its early stages … So there is still a very long way to go,” he added.

“A sustained recovery is now within reach, but only if we persevere on all fronts of our crisis response: keep up the pace of economic reform, regain control over our debt, both public and private, and build the pillars of a genuine economic and monetary union.”

The biggest determinant of the complexion of the eurozone recovery hinges on the German economy.

Berlin has been criticised for refusing to stoke the domestic economy in order to boost the eurozone’s prospects of growing over the medium term.

The German Federalelections are scheduled for Sept 23.

“The biggest domestic challenge remains weak investment.

“Despite very favourable financing conditions and strong international positions of many German companies, domestic investment has been sluggish for a longer while.

“Reasons behind the weak investment performance have been a preference for foreign rather than domestic investments in the private sector and a significant reduction of public investments.

“One way or the other, the next German government will have to address the issue of domestic investment to ensure Germany’s leading economic role,” said Carsten Brzeski, a Brussels-based economist with ING.

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