PARIS — Europe broke out of recession in the second quarter of the year, official data showed Wednesday, amid stronger domestic demand in France and Germany, ending a six-quarter downturn that has sapped confidence and thrown millions of people out of work.
The gross domestic product of the 17-nation eurozone grew by 0.3 percent in the April-June period from the previous three months, when the economy contracted by 0.3 percent, according to a report from Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union. That was slightly better than the 0.2 percent growth that economists had been expecting.
On an annualized basis, the eurozone grew by about 1.2 percent in the second quarter, short of the 1.7 percent second-quarter showing by the United States and 2.6 percent in Japan, but nonetheless a relief to the Continent, which has weathered an unemployment rate that has risen to 12.1 percent and a sovereign debt crisis that raised existential questions about the euro.
“It’s not the end of the problems,” said Ralph Solveen, an economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Germany. “But the technical recession is over.”
The economy as a whole of the European Union, which consists of 28 nations, also grew by 0.3 percent in the second quarter.
Germany grew by 0.7 percent, after stagnating in the first quarter. The gains were led by demand from households and government, the Federal Statistical Office reported from Wiesbaden.
France, which had declined for the two previous quarters, posted 0.5 percent quarterly growth, as household spending grew and companies increased exports of goods and services, although investment declined slightly. Pierre Moscovici, the French finance minister, noted that it was the best showing since the first quarter of 2011.