AFP - Growth in the eurozone strengthened far beyond expectations in the first quarter of 2016, but inflation remained very low and a source of concern. The Eurostat statistics agency said growth in the 19-nation single currency bloc accelerated in January to March to 0.6 percent. This expansion was double the 0.3 percent posted in the two previous quarters in the eurozone and put the bloc on course to grow by 1.6 percent yearon- year.
It also exceeded the 0.5 percent posted in the same period in the US. Analysts surveyed by Factset had forecast growth of 0.4 percent in the period. Dampening the good news however, eurozone inflation in April fell back into negative territory, data also showed. The renewed bout of deflation is the latest sign that unprecedented levels of stimulus measures by the European Central Bank to boost prices are not working.
Eurostat said inflation in April was negative 0.2 percent, compared with a revised zero percent in March. The eurozone was previously at the negative level in February. Analysts surveyed by Factset data research company had tabled on inflation of zero percent. Eurozone unemployment meanwhile in March fell 10.2 percent, Eurostat said, its lowest level in four and a half years. “Drilling down into the detail it’s not hard to see where most of that decline (in prices) came from with sharp declines in energy prices contributing to all of the decline,” said Michael Hewson of CMC Markets in London.