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Germany

German government sees economy on growth course

Europe's biggest economy has been found to be in a state robust enough to quickly overcome its tumble in the last quarter of 2012. The government in Berlin has said it expects growth to pick up again this year.

The German Economics Ministry said on Monday it expected the national economy to see brighter days after taking a tumble in final three months of last year.

"The prospects for the German economy are gradually improving," the ministry said in its latest monthly report. "Forward-looking indicators point to a possible end to the current weak phase."

In recent weeks, confidence surveys have indicated a recovery is just around the corner. The closely watched Ifo business sentiment index rose to a seven-month high in January, while consumer confidence was also up in the same month.

Export vulnerability

"The low point of the global economic weakness appears to be already past", the report said. It noted that the German economy had weathered the eurozone sovereign debt crisis better than many of its neighbors.

Official figures for the fourth quarter are due to be published on Thursday, with officials estimating a 0.5-percent contraction in the period between October and December 2012.

With a large chunk of its exports going to fellow euro area nations, Germany has not been immune to recent financial market turbulence, seeing its gross domestic product rise by just 0.7 percent last year, after three-percent growth in 2011.

hg/pfd (Reuters, AFP)