BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The euro zone entered a recession in the first quarter of this year, and economists are not optimistic for the coming months.
The 20-member bloc reported gross domestic product of -0.1% for the first quarter, according to revised estimates from the region’s statistics office, Eurostat, released Thursday.
In a first reading, the agency had said the euro zone grew by 0.1% over the first three months of the year. This pronouncement was adjusted down after Germany also cut its growth figures for the same period, and effectively entered a recession. Ireland also made a downward revision to its growth rate, now showing a contraction of almost 5%.
Before the weak performance over January-March, the euro zone also contracted by 0.1% in the last quarter of 2022. The two consecutive quarters of negative GDP performance have also dragged the wider region into a technical recession.
“News that GDP contracted in the first quarter after all means that the euro zone has already fallen into a technical recession. We suspect that the economy will contract further over the rest of this year,” Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics, said in a note Thursday.
Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and Greece are among the euro economies that reported an economic quarter-on-quarter contraction for the first quarter.
Household consumption dropped by 0.3% in the first quarter, highlighting the pressures that consumers are facing amid higher prices.
Claus Vistesen of Pantheon Macroeconomics said in a note that the euro zone region is unlikely to see much growth in the months ahead, when he expects a slowdown in investment.
The lackluster economic environment also poses a challenge for the European Central Bank, which has been on a hawkish path for the last 12 months and most recently set its main rate at 3.25%. The central bank is due to meet next week, and market players have priced in another 25 basis point hike.
A poor economic performance might limit the ECB’s ability to increase rates further in a bid to tackle inflation. ECB officials have nevertheless previously suggested that it is more important to bring down prices than to avoid an economic slowdown.
Euro zone bond yields continued to trade largely higher Thursday following the data announcement, as several market players expect further monetary tightening.