Eurozone growth in 2017 revised lower, still at decade high

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Brussels (AFP)

Growth in the eurozone rose less than previously thought in 2017, official data said on Wednesday, somewhat dampening talk that Europe enjoyed an unbridled recovery last year.

Economic growth in the 19-country eurozone hit 2.3 percent in 2017, less than the 2.5 percent estimated in January, the EU's Eurostat statistics agency said after reviewing more precise data.

This was still the highest growth in a decade for the eurozone, leaving Europe at the centre of a global recovery but shy of levels reached before the financial crisis.

The figure was ahead of the 1.8 percent reached a year earlier, the EU's Eurostat statistics agency said.

The 28-member EU also saw its growth rate knocked lower, to 2.4 percent from the earlier 2.5 percent, the agency said.

Europe's economic recovery appeared to fire on all cylinders despite the uncertainty around Brexit, with the economies in the 19-country area lifted by a resurgent France and Spain.

The level was the highest since 2007 when the eurozone economy hit growth of 3.0 percent, just before the financial crisis implosion that began in the United States and quickly spread globally.

European officials had celebrated the latest data as the best indication yet that the eurozone debt crisis is safely in the past and that any Brexit effects remain under control.

But clouds are on the horizon once more, with a threat by US President Donald Trump to impose massive tariffs on European steel imports, which could trigger a trade war and sow economic chaos.