The economy of the 16 countries that use the euro currency grew modestly during the first quarter of the year, despite a further big drop in output in debt-laden Greece, official figures showed Wednesday.
Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, said that the euro zone economy grew by 0.2 percent in the first three months of the year from the previous quarter.
The modest rise follows a flat performance in the fourth quarter of 2009 and highlights how slowly the world's second largest economy is emerging from recession — which officially ended in the third quarter last year.
The tepid recovery contrasts with that of the U.S., which saw output rise by a quarterly rate of 0.8 percent in the first quarter, according to Eurostat figures.
The euro zone economy still has a long way to go to make up for the output lost during the recession and the debt problems afflicting a number of economies isn't going to help matters in the months ahead.
Germany, the euro zone's biggest economy, saw output rise by 0.2 percent, while France, the second largest, grew by 0.1 percent. Italy returned to growth with a 0.5 percent quarterly rise.
The increases recorded in the three largest euro zone economies helped to offset the 0.8 percent contraction in Greece, which is in the process of being bailed out by its partners in the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund.
Eurostat did not publish a component breakdown for the quarter but most economists think that growth primarily came from the industrial sector as global trade perked up — separate figures from Eurostat showed that industrial production in the euro zone spiked by 1.3 percent in March from the previous month.
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