World Bulletin / News Desk
Germany posted modest economic growth in the second quarter of the year and France stagnated, official data showed on Tuesday, suggesting the euro zone as a whole contracted over the three months.
Europe's largest economy eked out growth of 0.3 percent over the quarter, marginally beating forecasts, but it is unlikely to be able to defy gravity indefinitely unless decisive action is taken to tackle the currency bloc's debt crisis.
More up-to-date evidence from the third quarter has shown declines in German manufacturing orders, industrial output, imports and exports. Germany's forward-looking ZEW sentiment index will be published later in the day.
"Growth turned out to be pretty solid. But this could be the last positive piece of news out of Germany for some time," said Joerg Kraemer at Commerzbank. "The German economy could contract in the summer. It is fundamentally in good structural shape, but can't decouple from the recession in the euro zone, plus the global economy has also shifted down a gear."
For France, it was the third consecutive quarter of zero growth. The central bank has already said it expects a mild contraction in the third quarter.
The euro zone as a whole is forecast to have contracted by 0.2 percent in the second quarter having flatlined in the first. That figure will be published at 0900 GMT. Economists say worse is probably to come.
"We do not think that Germany on its own can keep the entire euro zone afloat," said Aline Schuiling, senior economist at ABN AMRO. "Despite the positive growth number for Germany, we expect total euro zone GDP to have contracted by around 0.4 percent on the quarter in the second quarter, as severe fiscal austerity is pulling most economies into recession."
Safe-haven German Bund futures fell after the slightly stronger than expected German and French GDP eased concerns that the euro zone's two biggest economies were sliding into recession.
For the currency bloc's members at the sharp end of its debt crisis, the picture is bleaker still and as economies shrink, so do tax revenues, making deficit-cutting even harder to achieve.
That has fostered a growing debate inside and outside Europe about the sense of austerity drives.
Figures released on Monday showed debt-cutting measures helped shrink Greece's economy 6.2 percent year-on-year in the second quarter and economists say the slump will persist as the government scrambles to secure billions in additional cuts to keep bailout funds flowing.
Italy's second quarter data was released last week and showed the economy contracted by 0.7 percent quarter-on-quarter, compounding the difficulties for Mario Monti's technocrat government as it strives to avoid a bailout.
Spain's Q2 GDP report is due on Aug. 28.
Finland, one of Germany's northern European austerity allies, suffered a 0.7 percent year-on-year fall inGDP.
The big unanswered question is whether a weakening economy will make Germans less likely to support government rescue efforts for the broader euro zone.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said repeatedly over the past year that she will do everything to save the euro, most recently after the European Central Bank signalled it would intervene in the bond market to lower Spanish and Italian borrowing costs.
But not all Germans support that course and the chancellor's room for manoeuvre appears to be shrinking at a time when both Greece and Spain may soon require new rescues. However, if ordinary Germans start to feel real economic pain, their response could be to demand their leaders sort out the crisis that is now finally knocking at their door.
Spanish and Italian bond yields have steadied since ECB President Mario Draghi pledged to do whatever it takes to save the euro zone. It is quite possible that Madrid and Rome will seek help from the euro zone's rescue funds and the ECB before the year is out.
"It remains decisive whether the euro crisis can be controlled. We expect that the ECB has initiated a turning point with its signal of bond purchases," said Christian Schulz, economist at Berenberg Bank. "After a weaker summer the German economy will be able to grow faster again from the fourth quarter."
Production from conflict-free mines are bagged and tagged with a barcode to make it easily traceable.
"We will further expand our capacities to be able to respond to the high market growth," Jochem Heizmann, head of VW's China operations told reporters on Saturday ahead of the Beijing auto show.
The State Duma lower house on Friday ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North Korea's debt. It said the total debt stood at $10.96 billion as of Sept. 17, 2012.
Mt. Gox, once the world's biggest bitcoin exchange, is likely to be liquidated after a Tokyo court dismissed the company's bid to resuscitate its business.
Discussions will continue in the days and weeks ahead, but there is no particular deadline for concluding the talks, the official added.
Russia's oil output stands at over 10 million barrels per day, the world's largest, but it needs new sources of crude oil, including hard-to-recover deposits and the Arctic, to sustain this level
The strike at Yue Yuen is not just one of China's biggest in recent years, it's also more clearly driven by workers' fears that they have been scammed by an opaque and convoluted welfare payment system.
When the system is in place citizens will be able to buy a limited amount of subsidised fuel, and will have to pay a normal, market price for any extra quantities.
Production in Upper Nile state's Paloch oilfields, where output has not been hampered by the conflict, stood at 159,000 barrels per day this week.
Dragomir Stoynev accused fellow European Union members of a politically-motivated attempt to scupper the project, and urged the bloc to understand the effect that doing so would have on its members.
The drops have come mainly because Japan did not take any cargoes in March and South Korea is not scheduled to take any shipments in April, according to the tanker data.
Japan's finance ministry and central bank have declined to comment on the payments.
But a survey shows that most people believe inflation is speeding up and could surpass 37 percent this year.
A fifth payment of $450 million was due on April 15, contingent on Iran having diluted half of its most sensitive stockpile of nuclear materials
The year-on-year inflation rate in the 18 countries sharing the euro was 0.5 percent in March against 0.7 percent in February, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat said.
Pushed by higher food and shelter costs, the consumer price index rose in March.