German government halves 2019 growth forecast to 0.5%

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, April 17, 201

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, April 17, 201

BERLIN (AP) — The German government has slashed its 2019 economic growth forecast for the country for the second time this year and is now predicting growth of only 0.5%.

Wednesday's forecast halves the 1% estimate the government presented in late January, when it cut its forecast from 1.8%. It follows a string of downgrades by economists and other groups.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier predicted growth of 1.5% in 2020.

Prospects for Germany, Europe's biggest economy, have been weighed down by weaker growth elsewhere and by the after-effects of its own weak performance at the end of last year, when it was dragged down largely by one-time factors related to new car emissions standards.

Last year, gross domestic product expanded by 1.4%.