Germany's economy surged ahead in the second quarter, growing 2.2 percent — the fastest pace for at least two decades and beating market forecasts — as a global recovery fed demand for its exports.
The first-quarter growth figure for Europe's biggest economy also was revised upward Friday to 0.5 percent — more than double the initial reading of 0.2 percent.
"The recovery of the German economy, which lost momentum at the turn of 2009/2010, is really back on track," the Federal Statistical Office said as it released the preliminary second-quarter figures.
It was the strongest performance since the reunification of West Germany and communist East Germany two decades ago, the office said. The previous best was 1.9 percent growth in the first quarter of 1992.
Economists had expected second-quarter growth of 1.3 percent. In year-on-year terms, output rose by 3.7 percent.
While foreign trade was one of the key drivers of growth, household and government consumption also contributed to the rise in gross domestic product, the statistical office said.
An improving global economy has fed demand for German exports, while industrial orders and business confidence have been rising.
The economy shrank by a painful 4.9 percent last year — easily the worst performance since World War II.
The government still has an official forecast for this year of 1.4 percent growth, but Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle said Friday that expansion of "well over 2 percent" is now possible.
"One cannot speak of an economic miracle, but we are experiencing an XL upswing at the moment," Bruederle said.
Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING in Brussels, said the economy benefited from "a catching up in the construction sector after the harsh winter and strong foreign demand for German goods."
He cautioned that "German growth will return to more ordinary growth numbers" looking forward. "Nevertheless, despite an inevitable slowdown, all ingredients are there for the German economy to take the next step toward a self-sustained recovery."
Resilient business confidence suggests that "a definitely much lower but still solid broad-based GDP performance can be expected in the current quarter," said Alexander Koch, an economist at UniCredit in Munich.
He lifted his full-year growth forecast to 3.5 percent from 2 percent.
Germany's performance powered the 16-nation eurozone's overall second-quarter growth to a better-than-expected 1 percent.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said that "the news from Germany is very good, and obviously that is important for all the European economy."
Speaking in Sigulda, Latvia, he pointed to recent signs of "some increase of domestic consumption, which would also be important because not everybody can export their way out of a crisis."
The head of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, however, cautioned that "this fast pace of recovery can't be maintained."
"Also, we have barely made up more than half the losses from the crisis," Martin Wansleben said. "So we must continue to work rather than slapping each other on the shoulder."
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