BRUSSELS: Euro zone economic growth slowed as expected in the last three months of 2019 as gross domestic product shrank in France and Italy against the previous quarter, but employment growth picked up more than expected, official estimates showed on Friday.
The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said GDP in the 19 countries sharing the euro expanded 0.1per cent quarter-on-quarter in the October-December period, as announced on Jan 31, for a 0.9per cent year-on-year gain - a downward revision from the previously estimated 1.0per cent growth.
The quarterly growth rate slowed compared to the 0.3per cent expansion in the third quarter because of a 0.1per cent contraction in the second biggest economy France and a 0.3per cent contraction in the third biggest Italy.
Growth Germany, the biggest euro zone economy, stagnated.
Eurostat also said that euro zone employment rose 0.3per cent quarter-on-quarter in the last three months of 2019 for a 1.0per cent year-on-year gain. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.1per cent quarterly rise and a 0.8per cent annual increase.
Separately, Eurostat said the euro zone's trade surplus with the rest of the world was 23.1 billion euros in December, up from 16.3 billion a year earlier, bringing the total for the whole of 2019 to 225.7 billion, up from 194.6 billion in 2018.
Adjusted for seasonal factors, the trade surplus was 22.2 billion in December, up from 19.1 billion in November as exports rose 0.9per cent on the month and imports fell 0.7per cent.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)