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Eurozone economy barely grows in Q4 as France, Italy shrink

BRUSSELS (AP) — The eurozone economy, made up of the 19 countries that use the euro, barely grew in the final quarter of 2019 as both France and Italy contracted, official figures showed Friday. In its first estimate for the quarter, statistics agency Eurostat said the eurozone grew by only 0.1% from the previous three-month period. That was below expectations for a 0.2% quarterly increase and largely due to the fact that France shrank by 0.1% and Italy by 0.3%, according to their respective national statistics agencies.

The paltry growth across the bloc highlights how the eurozone has lost steam amid worries over a trade war between the U.S. and China that is having knock-on effects around the world. It's also due to domestic factors. In France, widespread strikes have hurt business while Italy's economy has struggled to grow at all for years.

Elsewhere, Eurostat found that the annual rate of inflation across the eurozone rose to 1.4% in January from 1.3% the previous month. However, the core rate, which strips out volatile items such as food and energy, fell to 1.1% in January from 1.3%.

By whatever measure, inflation in the eurozone remains below the European Central Bank's goal of just below 2%.

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