The euro zone economy grew at the same quarterly rate in the fourth quarter as in the third, data showed on Tuesday, defying expectations of an acceleration.
MARTIN VAN VLIET, EURO ZONE ECONOMIST, ING GLOBAL ECONOMICS
It's in line with the consensus and it's matching also the pace seen in the third quarter, but I think the underlying growth picture is a bit more benign.
As we all know there was a cold snap in December, which disrupted construction and trade activity, and the acceleration in industrial activity was insufficient to offset this, so the underlying picture looks more benign.
All in all, today's figures show that although the economy experienced a weather-related impact at the end of last year, the recovery continued, so my guess is that growth will pick up in the first quarter as the weather-related impact unwinds.
But then again fiscal tightening will increasingly kick in, so on balance we remain cautiously optimistic about the growth prospects for this year, and we retain the view that the euro zone economy will grow by a round 1.5 percent.
CHRISTOPH WEIL, EUROPEAN ECONOMIST AT COMMERZBANK
It's in line with expectations, perhaps a little bit lower, but it's not dramatic. I think the figures are depressed by the hard winter weather.
The interesting thing is the differential between the euro zone countries with strong growth, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, and then the peripherals such as Greece and Portugal, which are really lagging behind.
For this year, in Germany we will expect stronger growth in the first quarter, and across the euro zone as a whole we will see growth of perhaps 0.4 to 0.5 percent in the first and second quarters.