BERLIN (AP) — The German economy, Europe's biggest, picked up speed in the fourth quarter to grow by an unexpectedly robust 0.7 percent compared with the previous three-month period, official data showed Friday.
The figure was much better than the 0.3 percent rise economists had expected and pushed last year's full-year growth figure up to 1.6 percent from the initial estimate of 1.5 percent the Federal Statistical Office gave last month.
Germany's performance in the October-December period was powered in particular by household spending and investment in equipment and construction, the office said. Exports and imports both rose strongly.
It was the strongest performance since the economy grew by 0.8 percent in last year's first quarter. That was followed by a contraction of 0.1 percent and a return to feeble 0.1 percent growth in the subsequent quarters.
The latest growth figure offers "a clear sign that lower oil prices have found their way into consumers' pockets," ING-DiBa economist Carsten Brzeski said.
Germany "looks set to continue surfing on a wave of economic well-being," he said, with low unemployment, wage increases, low energy prices and low interest rates encouraging spending. "At the same time, the weak euro will definitely benefit German exports."