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European Economy Slows, Raising Expectations of E.C.B. Action

EntertainmentEuropean Economy Slows, Raising Expectations of E.C.B. Action

Economic growth in countries that use the euro slowed considerably in the second quarter, adding to pressure on the European Central Bank to intercede to prevent a possible recession.

The economies in the eurozone countries grew by 0.2 percent over the preceding quarter, half the 0.4 percent growth rate posted in the first three months of the year, according to Eurostat, the European statistical agency. On an annual basis, the economy rose 1.1 percent from the same quarter a year ago.

“This highlights that the slowdown in Europe is substantial,” said Ángel Talavera, an economist at Oxford Economics, a market research firm, who described the numbers as “weak” though “expected.”

On another worrisome front, inflation remained tepid in July at 1.1 percent, down from 1.3 percent in June, Eurostat reported. That number is well below the central bank’s target of close to 2 percent.

The slowing economic growth and sagging inflation are expected to bolster policymakers at the central bank pushing for a new asset buying program when they meet in September.

“The E.C.B. is going to come out with guns blazing,” Mr. Talavera said.

Economists worry that with the benchmark interest rate at zero, the European Central Bank has few options left. But Mario Draghi, its president, and Christine Lagarde, who will succeed him in October, are expected to consider adding to the bank’s huge purchases of bonds. Buying these securities is, in effect, printing money, a form of stimulus.

There was some positive news on the employment front. In June, the unemployment rate in the 19 countries that use the euro fell to 7.5 percent, down from 7.6 percent in May and the lowest level recorded since July 2008.

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