The euro zone economy grew at a snail's pace in the fourth quarter, figures today confirmed, as investments and consumer and government spending just offset the impact of a sharp rise in imports. 

EU statistics office Eurostat said that gross domestic product (GDP) in the 19 countries sharing the single currency rose by just 0.1% in the three months from October to December in line with its flash estimate published last month. 

Eurostat did, though, revise its figure for year-on-year growth to 1% from 0.9%. 

The weak quarterly growth follows a strong 0.5% expansion in the first quarter, expansion of just 0.1% in the second and of 0.3% in the third quarter. 

France and Italy, the zone's second and third largest economies, as well as Finland and Greece suffered contractions in the fourth quarter. 

Gross fixed capital formation contributed 0.9 percentage points to GDP and household and government spending each 0.1 points. 

By contrast, net trade stripped 0.8 percentage points from GDP as imports rose by 1.8% while exports increased by only 0.2%. 

Eurostat also said today that euro zone employment rose by 0.3% quarter-on-quarter and by 1.1% year-on-year.