German economy returned to growth of 0.1 percent in 1st quarter, avoided recession

The German economy, Europe's biggest, returned to very modest growth in the first quarter and avoided a recession.

Germany's Federal Statistical Office said Wednesday that the economy grew by a slight 0.1 percent in the January-March quarter compared with the previous three-month period. That followed a 0.7 decline in last year's fourth quarter — a figure that was revised downward from the initial reading of 0.6 percent.

The German economy is in better shape than many others in the 17-nation euro area. Recent economic indicators have shown a mixed picture but industrial orders and production data have been robust.

First-quarter gross domestic product figures for the full eurozone are expected later Wednesday.

Germany had been expected to avoid a recession, technically defined as two straight quarters of negative growth.