Malta has topped the eurozone’s economic growth charts during the first half of the year, data released by rating agency DBRS shows.

With a growth rate of over 5%, Malta ranked first, followed by Latvia and Slovenia.

The average growth rate in the eurozone during the first half of the year stood at 2.3%.

DBRS said growth in the eurozone had a weak start to the year, but remained steady.

“Growth was driven by household consumption and gross fixed investment. By country, the top performers were Malta, Latvia, and Slovenia, while the under-performers included Italy, Belgium and France,” DBRS said.

At 3.9%, Malta was also among the three countries with the lowest unemployment rate.

Germany registered the lowest rate of unemployment at 3.4%, while the Netherlands registered the same rate as Malta’s.

At its September policy meeting, the European Central Bank (ECB) revised downwards its economic growth forecast for the eurozone in 2018 as a result of rising external risks.

The ECB had already cut its growth forecast to 2.1% from 2.4% in its June meeting.

The projection for 2019 was also revised downward to 1.8% from 1.9%.

DBRS said the eurozone inflation rate had risen to around 2% since June 2018, but core inflation remained subdued.

With inflation gradually rising, the ECB announced in June 2018 that the monthly net asset purchases will be wound down from €30 billion to €15 billion from October and then stopped at the end of the year.

DBRS warned that the eurozone’s outlook over the next six months could be subject to both upside and downside risks.

On the upside, better conditions in the labour markets could translate into stronger domestic demand. However, sentiment could be affected by a resurgence of political risks, related to the Italian budget in September, if not compliant with EU fiscal rules, or potential political uncertainty in Spain, if early elections were called.

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