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Leading economies stuck on ‘stable’ growth path: OECD

Growth is stuck on a stable path in advanced economies, with the United States, Canada and Britain on a steady rise but Germany and Italy are showing signs of slowing down, the OECD said on Monday.

There is widespread concern that the 18-member eurozone economy is flagging at a level of weak growth, and the latest leading indicators from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that the single currency zone is stuck on this growth path.

This will be seen as disappointing since governments and economists are looking for signs that the weak eurozone recovery is picking up speed.

The lack of overall signs that the world economy, and notably the most advanced economies, are gathering speed will also be seen as disappointing.

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund which produces benchmark forecasts, hinted in the Les Echos newspaper in Paris on Monday that the organisation could lower its outlook for world growth this year.

“We are in the process of updating our forecasts. World growth should be just above three percent this year, between 3.0 and 3.5 percent,” Christine Lagarde told the newspaper.

The IMF had previously forecast global growth at 3.4 percent for this year, and will release new projections on October 7.

Lagarde said world growth was “too weak, fragile and uneven”.

The fragile state of the eurozone, and the increasing threat of deflation, led the European Central Bank to take strong action last week to inject cash into the economy in the hope this will boost growth and push up prices.

– France stable –

The French economy, widely seen as being at risk of returning to recession, is showing “stable” growth momentum, the OECD said in its monthly survey of composite leading indicators.

The French government recently halved its outlook for growth this year to 0.5 percent and is looking desperately for ways of raising the growth rate.

The OECD provides research and policy advice to 34 advanced democracies which form its membership, and its index of the leading indicators covers mainly their economies.

Leading indicators are regarded as a reliable guide to the future performance of economies, and particularly to turning points upwards or downwards in activity.

The OECD said that the latest data continued “to signal stable growth momentum in most major economies.”

The figures for “the United States, Canada and United Kingdom continue to point to stable growth momentum,” it said.

But the data for Japan “continues to indicate an interruption in growth momentum though this may be related to one-off factors.”

The signs for Germany, with the biggest economy in the eurozone, continued “to point to slowing momentum,” it said.

Regarding leading emerging economies outside the OECD area, the index showed that the Indian economy continued to gain momentum, while growth in China and Russia was stabilising, and there were “tentative” signs that activity in the Brazilian economy was picking up.

Meanwhile in Portugal, official data showed that the eurozone country which emerged from a rescue programme in May, returned to growth in the second quarter, avoiding recession in spite of a banking crisis.

Portugal’s gross domestic product grew by 0.3 percent in between April and July, the National Institute of Statistics (INE) said.