Eurozone economy picked up speed in the second quarter

Eurozone economy picked up speed in the second quarter

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Europe's economic expansion kept on rolling and even picked up a little speed in the second quarter.

The economy in the 19 countries that use the euro currency expanded by 0.6 percent compared with the quarter before, an acceleration from the 0.5 percent rate of the first quarter.

The official figures released Tuesday showed the economy was 2.1 percent larger than a year earlier.

The eurozone is being boosted by a growing global economy, buoyant consumer and business sentiment, and massive monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank. The auto industry has rebounded, with June registrations across the wider EU close to those of June 2007, before the global financial crisis. Indexes of manufacturing activity are showing strong growth.

And unemployment has kept on falling in the eurozone and is now at 9.1 percent, down from 12.1 percent at its peak in 2013.

The eurozone is still working off the effects of a crisis over high government and bank debt that forced member governments to bail out member governments Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus and Spain's banks.

The ECB has been reluctant to announce when it will dial back the stimulus in the form of 60 billion euros ($71 billion) in bond purchases slated to run at least through year-end. That's because annual inflation at 1.3 percent remains below its goal of just under 2 percent. The bond purchases pump newly printed money into the economy in an effort to boost inflation to levels considered better for the economy.

For the full 28-member European Union, second-quarter growth was the same as for the eurozone at 0.6 percent, and up 2.2 percent from the year-earlier quarter.

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