Euro zone growth outstripped the U.S. and the UK in the first quarter, driven by France and Spain. But, as David Pollard reports, other indicators still signal an uncertain outlook.
Four days of protest this week alone. If nothing else, labour reform is an explosive issue in France. But if that's one side of an economy, this is another ... Latest growth numbers beating even the most optimistic forecasts. For the euro zone, too, a pleasant suprise... GDP up, and sentiment. Though with this silver lining, the cloud is - as before - even lower inflation - and a sharp fall in German retail sales. Even if some see a ray of sunshine beyond. (SOUNDBITE) (English): DARREN SINDEN, MARKET COMMENTATOR, ADMIRAL MARKETS, SAYING: "It's very difficult to actually ever get a handle on what's happening in the euro zone, but I would say that since the start of this year, the bias has been to the upside, and I'm as big cynic about the ECB and the euro zone recovery as you'll find." Greece debt discussions too offering a rare positive. Greece and its lenders are said to be '99 percent there' on narrowing differences over bailout reforms. Even as some suspect the lenders themselves might still be at odds. (SOUNDBITE) (English): DARREN SINDEN, MARKET COMMENTATOR, ADMIRAL MARKETS, SAYING: "Debt relief will obviously be the sticking point. The IMF want that, the Germans don't. I'm not sure how you bridge that gap, or how easy it is to bridge that gap, I should say." More negotiations are needed on further measures that Athens must commit to - in exchange for debt relief negotiations. But May 9 is now pencilled for a special summit of euro zone finance ministers to close a deal.