German economy grows by 0.7% in Q2

Aug 14, 2013, 3:47 AM EDT

BERLIN (AP) — The German economy, Europe's biggest, gained steam following a weak start into the year, growing by 0.7 percent in the April-June quarter compared with the previous three-month period, the country's Federal Statistics Office said on Wednesday.

The country's strong growth is another sign that the eurozone may have inched out of recession after six quarters of falling output.

Growth was spurred mainly by domestic demand, with the quarter-on-quarter increase in exports larger than the rise in imports, the statistics office said.

Just across the border, the French economy is officially out of recession with its strongest quarterly growth in two years, France's national statistics agency also said on Wednesday.

In recent months, the picture has brightened in Europe as governments have shifted their focus away from debt reduction. Industrial production is rising. Consumer spending has stabilized. Exports have increased as key trade partners, including the United States and Japan, strengthen.

Confidence has also recovered as stock and bond markets have rallied. That's partly due to the European Central Bank's pledge a year ago to do "whatever it takes" to save the currency union and its decision to cut its main interest rate to a record low of 0.5 percent.

In Spain and Italy, for example, government borrowing rates have sunk in the past year, a sign of investor confidence.