World Economy

Italian Economy Grows

Italian Economy GrowsItalian Economy Grows

The Italian economy expanded more than expected in the three months through March, paving the way for an exit from its longest recession on record.

Gross domestic product rose 0.3 percent from the previous quarter, when it stagnated, national statistics agency Istat said in a preliminary report in Rome on Wednesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 18 economists called for a 0.2 percent expansion. From a year earlier, GDP was unchanged, Bloomberg reported.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, 40, took office a year ago with a promise to pull the country out of its economic slump, which began in the second half of 2011. While the decline in the euro exchange rate and in oil price supported the economic growth in the first quarter, Renzi’s advisers have cautioned Italy still needs to make up for lost ground before bringing down an unemployment rate that in March stood at 13 percent.

“The risk remains that the favorable backdrop fails to spark a noteworthy recovery in Italy during 2015, with the country lagging behind as growth accelerates more acutely across the single currency region,” said Raj Badiani, an economist at IHS Global Insight, after the data were released. “We remain wary about the still soft domestic demand environment, not helped by still dysfunctional credit markets and rising unemployment.”

Gross domestic product in Germany, the euro region’s biggest economy, expanded 0.3 percent in the first quarter, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said on Wednesday. The French economy grew 0.6 percent in the period after stagnating in the October-December period, the country’s statistics office in Paris said.