Eurozone Growth Slips to Four-Year Low, Fueling Crisis Fears

Eurozone Growth Slips to Four-Year Low, Fueling Crisis Fears

For example, European car sales slumped 24 percent in September as auto manufacturers struggled to comply with new, stricter emissions standards. Cars were slow to reach dealers because of delays in getting regulators to certify vehicles for sale. Manufacturers such as BMW and Daimler have also been caught in the crossfire of President Trump’s trade war with China.

The slowdown in the car industry rippled through the eurozone and was probably most pronounced in Germany, the Continent’s largest economy and motor of growth. Registrations of new Volkswagens slumped by nearly half in September, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. The company at least temporarily lost its long-held status as the Continent’s largest auto manufacturer to PSA of France, the maker of Peugeot and Citroën cars.

The brake on growth caused by the auto industry should dissipate soon, “and the euro economy is likely to grow more strongly again,” Christoph Weil, an economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, said in a note to clients Tuesday.

But many other risks will remain, particularly Italy and a government seen by investors as reckless and determined to defy Brussels. The ultimate question facing the eurozone, and the world for that matter, is whether the problems of Italy and the tremors in financial markets signal another crisis.

Bernd Meyer, chief strategist for wealth and asset management at Berenberg, pointed out that prices for tech stocks or real estate were not at the extreme levels that preceded past meltdowns.

During a meeting with reporters Tuesday, Mr. Meyer argued that market pressure on Italy will eventually force the government to relent on its spending plans. But, he added, “they will only back down when they are staring into the abyss.”

Others are less sanguine about the eurozone’s prospects. Nicola Nobile, lead economist at Oxford Economics, a consulting firm, noted that the European Commission’s survey of economic sentiment also slipped Tuesday, though it remains well above crisis levels.

“Recent surveys,” Mr. Nobile said in a note to clients, “are painting a rather bleak picture of eurozone growth.”

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