Germany's strong first-quarter growth and better-than-expected GDP figures in France lifted the 15-country euro zone to 0.7% expansion in the year's first three months. Europe "had, for once, successfully decoupled from the doom and gloom engulfing much of the Anglo-Saxon world," Bank of America economist Holger Schmieding said. A mild winter encouraged German construction at the start of 2008, economists said. But leading indicators suggest slower or even negative GDP is possible in the current quarter.

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