The economy of the 17 countries that shared the single
currency in the last quarter rose 0.3 percent in the three
months to December against the previous three months, after a
0.1 percent rise in the third quarter.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 0.2 percent quarterly
rise. Compared with the same period of last year, euro zone
gross domestic product rose 0.5 percent, above market
expectations of a 0.4 percent rise.
The first estimate does not provide a detailed breakdown into
GDP components, which will only be available on March 5.
The 9.5 trillion euro economy contracted 0.4 percent overall in
2013, Eurostat said. The European Commission expects it will
grow 1.1 percent in 2014.
The gradually strengthening recovery still faces downside risks,
mainly from turmoil in financial markets, disinflation and the
slow pace of implementation of structural reforms.
Separately, Eurostat data showed the bloc's December foreign
trade surplus grew to 13.9 billion euros from 9.8 billion euros
in the same period last year, driven by a 4 percent year-on-year
rise in exports, as imports rose only 1 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 15.0 billion euro surplus
in December, following a revised 17.0 billion euro surplus in
The euro zone's full year external trade surplus more than
doubled to 153.8 billion euros last year, from 79.7 billion
euros in 2012, with exports rising 1 percent and imports falling
(Reporting by Martin Santa)
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