Euro zone GDP falls less than expected at end of 2020

Eurozone on brink of double-dip recession

European economy suffered the sharpest quarterly slowdown on record in the second quarter a year ago due to the pandemic, followed by a two-digit strong rebound in the third quarter.

That compares with quarter-on-quarter GDP growth of 1 per cent in the United States and 2.6 per cent in China in the final three months of 2020.

China has already shaken off the economic impact of Covid-19, growing 2.3 per cent over the course of 2020, while the USA economy is expected to reach its pre-pandemic scale by the middle of this year after shrinking 3.5 per cent last year. China, with a 2.3 percent increase in GDP year-on-year, is expected to be the only major economy to post growth in the pandemic-ravaged year.

However, the eurozone's fourth-quarter contraction was milder than the 1.2 per cent fall expected by economists polled by Reuters, and better than the European Central Bank's forecast for a decline of 2.2 per cent. The declines were "related to COVID-19 containment measures", said Eurostat. "This has had a very positive effect on GDP, especially because demand for goods and construction has remained strong despite lockdowns in place", said Bert Colijn, economist at ING.

"The eurozone economy got away with a black eye late previous year", said Florian Hense, economist at Berenberg.

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In the 4 quarter, the Eurozone economy contracted by 0.7%, following the 3 quarter's 12.4% rebound.

But early indicators show that the 19-countries that use the euro currency now face the prospect of a fresh recession after a recovery last summer was cut short by a second wave of the pandemic. But since October, the renewed spread of the coronavirus prompted governments to restrict economic activities once again.

But unexpected growth in Germany and Spain helped to limit the damage a tad. Year-on-year, GDP fell 5.1% and 4.8%, respectively.

The EU's statistics agency said that GDP fell by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, while on an annualised basis, the economy shrank by 5.1%.

The German economy, Europe's biggest, grew by a scant 0.1% in the fourth quarter while France saw a smaller than expected drop of 1.3%. The IMF recently estimated the United Kingdom economy shrank 10 per cent previous year.

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