Growth across the euro zone was stronger than expected at the end of last year, according to official figures released Friday, raising hopes that the economic recovery is gaining a foothold.
Gross domestic product grew by 0.3 percent in the October-to-December period from the previous quarter, said Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office.
That amounts to an annualized rate of about 1.2 percent.
In the third quarter, growth was only 0.1 percent across the bloc, which counted 17 members before Latvia joined this year.
The fourth-quarter growth — the third consecutive quarter of expansion — beat analysts’ expectations for a rate of 0.2 percent and eases pressure on the European Central Bank to loosen its monetary policy.
The growth uptick was largely driven by higher-than-expected activity in the bloc’s biggest economies — Germany, France and Italy.
Italy’s quarterly growth rate of 0.1 percent marked the country’s first positive growth result since 2011. Germany’s economy grew by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, while France’s was up 0.3 percent.
Growth in the Netherlands was a strong 0.7 percent, and the economies in crisis-hit Spain and Portugal also showed new signs of life, growing by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent.
— Associated Press
Drivers will be paying more at the gas pump in the coming weeks, but the price increase shouldn’t be as high as last year.
A rise in the price of gasoline is almost inevitable this time of year. Pump prices have gone up an average of 31 cents per gallon in February over the past three years.
“We’re going to get increases, and they are going to be noticeable,” said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Gasbuddy.com and the Oil Price Information Service. “We’re going to get that pop relatively soon.”
The average price of crude oil has risen 8 percent over the past month, to $100 per barrel. And analysts expect fuel supplies to begin to decline as refineries dial back production to perform maintenance and make the switch to more expensive summer gasoline that is formulated to meet clean air rules.
Gasoline prices are already creeping higher. The nationwide average price has risen for seven days in a row, to $3.34 per gallon, the highest level since October, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express.
But the nationwide average is not expected to quite reach its high point of last year — $3.79 per gallon, set Feb. 27 — or the highs of $3.94 in 2012 and $3.98 in 2011. AAA predicts a peak between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon.
— Associated Press
● U.S. safety regulators are investigating problems with the power brakes in the Mazda CX-9 crossover SUV. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has seven complaints of unexpected loss of power-assisted brakes. No crashes have been reported. The probe covers about 62,000 of the sport-utility vehicles from the 2010 and 2011 model years.
● The CEO of American Airlines netted a profit of $13.4 million after exercising options and selling shares that he accumulated while running US Airways. Doug Parker sold more than one-third of his stake in the airlines formed by the merger of American and US Airways, but he still owns nearly 1.4 million shares. American disclosed the stock transactions by Parker and other top executives in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
● George Akerlof, husband of Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen, said he has resigned from the academic advisory board of the UBS International Center of Economics in Society, located at the University of Zurich. Akerlof, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the 2001 winners of the Nobel Prize in economics, said that he received no compensation for his participation on the advisory board but wanted to “avoid even the appearance of a conflict” of interest. UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, operates an investment-banking business in the United States and is regulated by the Fed.
● Apple will open its first Latin American store Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, and it will feature the highest-priced iPhone of all nations listed on the company’s Web site. Apple’s 16-gigabyte, contract-free iPhone 5s will sell for $1,174 in Brazil. That compares with $649 in the United States and $872 in China. The price of the iPhone 5s offered by authorized resellers in Brazil has jumped 17 percent since September on Apple’s Web site.
● U.S. airlines have canceled more than 75,000 domestic flights since Dec. 1, including more than 14,000 this week. That’s 5.5 percent of the 1.37 million flights scheduled during the period, according to calculations based on information provided by the flight tracking Web site FlightAware. It’s the highest total number and highest percentage of cancellations since the Department of Transportation first started collecting cancellation data in the winter of 1987-88.
— From news services
● Monday: U.S. financial markets will be closed for Presidents Day.