Germany barely avoided recession in Q4 with zero growth

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Germany economic growth stagnated in the last three months of the year, skirting a technical recession but registering only zero growth as foreign trade made little contribution to Europe's largest economy.

The lackluster figure reported Thursday by the state statistics agency followed a 0.2 percent fall in output during the preceding third quarter. Business spending on machinery and equipment supported the economy in the fourth quarter and kept Germany from suffering two straight quarters of negative growth, one definition of a recession.

The weak second half followed stronger performance in the first six months, leaving growth for the full year at 1.5 percent.

Slowing global trade amid U.S.-China trade tensions has been holding back Germany's export-focused economy.