German economy gathers momentum in first quarter

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is welcomed by Italy's Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni outside the city hall Campidoglio as EU leaders arrive for a meeting on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in Rome Italy

German economic growth has increased in the first quarter of 2017, it was announced Friday. The growth pick up contrasts with a slowdown in the eurozone's second biggest economy France in Q1 and means Germany's GDP rate exceeded that of the United Kingdom and U.S. at the start of the year.

Germany has the largest economy in the eurozone and its performance is in marked contrast to that of other big countries, such as Italy and France.

Germany's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.6 per cent in the first quarter compared with the previous three months, adjusted for price, seasonal and calendar effects, federal statistics authority Destatis said.

This met economists' forecasts and meant Germany's economy comfortably outpaced the US, which expanded by 0.7% annualized in the first quarter.

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High levels of employment, rising wages and low interest rates have all boosted consumer spending, while government spending has increased following the refugee influx of 2015-16, he said.

That was roughly the same growth rate as in the third and fourth quarters of 2016.

"In addition, foreign trade also gained momentum and supported growth as exports grew more sharply than imports according to preliminary calculations", the office said.

The improvement was driven by the services sector, where 56,200 net new jobs helped offset the destruction of 4,800 in the industrial sector and 2,000 in construction.

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