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Germany Narrowly Avoids Recession Thanks to Government Spending, Construction -- Update

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02/22/2019 | 03:56am EST

By Nina Adam

FRANKFURT--The German economy escaped sliding into recession by the skin of its teeth in the final quarter of last year, propped up by a pickup in government spending and booming construction.

The Federal Statistical Office on Friday confirmed its preliminary growth estimate from Feb. 14 and provided additional details on economic growth drivers.

Germany's gross domestic product--the broadest measure of goods and services produced in an economy--stagnated in the fourth quarter, which translates into an annualized growth rate of 0.1%. In the three months through September, the economy contracted by 0.8% in annualized terms.

"Positive impulses in a quarter-to-quarter comparison came from the domestic economy," it said.

Illustrating the trend, government consumption surged 1.6% from the third quarter, while investments in construction jumped by 1.3%. German companies also invested more in machinery, research and software than in the third quarter, the data showed.

The development in net trade, however, was growth-neutral as exports and imports each rose by 0.7% respectively.

What's more, companies slashed inventories in the fourth quarter, which pulled down Germany's quarterly growth rate, the figures show. Stocks had risen sharply in the third quarter, particularly at German car makers as they struggled to adjust to the new emissions protocol, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure

Write to Nina Adam at nina.adam@wsj.com

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