From the expenditure side, the largest positive contribution to the GDP growth came from net exports (0.2 percentage points), followed by household final consumption expenditure (0.1 percentage points), gross fixed capital formation (0.1 percentage points) and government spending (0.1 percentage points); while inventories subtracted 0.4 percentage points to the GDP.
Exports surged 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter (vs 0.2 percent in Q3) while imports rose at a slower 0.5 percent (vs 1.1 percent in Q3). In addition, the expansion was supported by increases in household consumption (0.2 percent vs 0.1 percent), fixed investment (0.6 percent, the same as in Q3) and government spending (0.7 percent vs 0.1 percent).
From the production side, services activity was the main driver of growth led by trade, transport, accommodation and food service activities (0.2 percent vs 0.1 percent); information and communication (0.6 percent vs 0.7 percent); financial and insurance activities (0.1 percent vs 0.5 percent); real estate activities (0.3 percent vs 0.4 percent); professional and support service activities (0.5 percent vs -0.1 percent) and administration and other public services (0.3 percent, the same as in Q3). Also, construction advanced 1.1 percent (vs 0.5 percent in Q3). By contrast, industry output shrank 0.5 percent (vs -0.1 percent in Q3), dragged by manufacturing (-0.2 percent vs -0.3 percent).
Among the bloc's largest economies, the German economy stalled in the fourth quarter, after contracting in the July-September period for the first time since 2015. Also, Italy's economy contracted for the second straight period by 0.1 percent, due to a fall in inventories, throwing the country into recession for the third time in a decade. On the other hand, France's GDP growth rate was unchanged at 0.3 percent and the Spanish economy continued to expand at a solid pace (0.7 percent vs 0.6 percent).
Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, the Euro Area economy expanded 1.1 percent in the three months to December, slightly below a flash estimate of 1.2 percent and following a 1.6 percent growth in the previous period. In 2018, the GDP rose 1.8 percent, compared to 2.4 percent in 2017.
Considering the European Union as a whole, GDP growth was unchanged at 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter; but slowed to 1.4 percent year-on-year (vs 1.8 percent in Q3). In 2018, the GDP increased 1.9 percent, also compared to 2.4 percent in 2017.