European Union revises up 2018 growth forecast for eurozone

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The European Commission has put Irish economic growth at 7.3% for 2017 as the economy expanded at a "solid pace", supported mainly by domestic activity.

Throughout the EU, GDP is expected to grow by 2.3 percent this year and by 2 percent in 2019 on average.

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"It is the first time since 2008 that the Greek economy is growing for three successive quarters", the Commission report stressed, noting that real GDP in Greece grew by 0.3 pct in the third quarter of 2017, for an annual growth rate of 1.1 pct for the first three quarters of 2017. "A tight labor market and intensifying wage pressures are expected to be key drivers for core inflation, whereas headline inflation will continue to be strongly affected by assumed fluctuations in prices for energy and unprocessed food", the report explained. Inflation in the euro bloc was 1.5% in 2017 and is forecast to remain at this level in 2018, rising to 1.6% next year. In the medium term, high global asset prices could be vulnerable to a re-assessment of risks and fundamentals.

While eurozone growth could once again exceed expectations on the back of strong economic sentiment and consumer spending, the European Union said geopolitical tensions, Britain's exit form the European Union and protectionist policies continue to pose threats to Europe's economic performance. However, beyond that, the European Union predicts that risks to the economic outlook are mainly linked to the outcome of Brexit negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU. This is for forecasting purposes only and has no bearing on the talks underway in the context of the Article 50 process. For all other incoming data, this forecast takes into consideration information up until 30 January 2018.

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The news was especially positive for France, the eurozone's second biggest economy, which saw its forecast revised sharply higher to 2.0 per cent for this year.

This change is a return to the Commission's previous pattern of forecasts and brings the Commission's forecast schedule back into line with those of other institutions (e.g. the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

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