Official figures show the eurozone economy grew by a quarterly rate of 0.6 percent in the first three months of year, meaning the currency bloc has finally clawed back the ground lost during the recessions it has suffered since 2008.

In a preliminary estimate, Eurostat says the eurozone is now 0.4 percent bigger than in the first quarter of 2008, just before the recession associated with the global financial crisis. The eurozone has suffered a torrid time since then, falling in and out of recession.

The doubling in the growth rate compared with the fourth quarter was unexpected. The consensus in markets was for a modest rise to 0.4 percent.

Eurostat also said Friday that inflation in the year to April dropped to minus 0.2 percent from zero in March.