German GDP grew 1.5% in 2018, weakest rate in five years

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BERLIN (Jan 15): The German economy grew by 1.5% in 2018, the weakest rate in five years and a clear slowdown from the previous year, a preliminary estimate from the Federal Statistics Office showed on Tuesday.

Europe's largest economy is struggling with a cooling of the global economy, trade disputes triggered by US President Donald Trump's 'America First' policies and the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal in March.

"The German economy thus grew the ninth year in a row, although growth has lost momentum," the statistics office said, adding that growth was mainly driven by domestic demand with household consumption and state spending both up on the year.

The Statistics Office said the economy probably grew slightly in the fourth quarter of 2018, which would mean it escaped recession — defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth in gross domestic product (GDP) of 1.5% last year after an expansion rate of 2.2% in 2017.

Adjusted for calendar effects, growth slowed to 1.5% from 2.5% in the previous year, the statistic office said.

Imports grew at a faster pace than exports, meaning that net trade had a slight downward effect on overall German GDP growth, the office said.