German economic growth weaker than expected

Porsche cars ready for export Improvements in the eurozone and US economies are expected to boost German exports this year

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Germany's economy grew by a weaker-than-expected 0.4% in 2013 according to the first official estimates.

That is down from the 0.7% growth Europe's largest economy saw in 2012.

The preliminary figure from the German statistics agency suggests Germany saw little or no growth in the final three months of the year.

However, most economists expect the economy to bounce back in 2014 with growth of up to 2%. The government is forecasting 1.7%.

Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank, said: "We're expecting growth this year of 1.7%. The German economy has been picking up since the spring and the pace will pick up."

He said improvements in the rest of the eurozone and the US - both big export markets - would help Germany to grow and outperform the rest of the eurozone "for several years to come".

Germany's economy has remained a strong point of the eurozone, and was credited with helping to haul the single currency bloc out of recession last year.

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