Euro zone economic growth was slower than expected in the first three months of the year, preliminary data showed today, as the war in Ukraine started on February 24 hit economic activity.

The European Union's statistics office Eurostat said gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.2% on a quarterly basis to give a 5% year-on-year gain.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected 0.3% quarterly growth.

The European Commission also forecast just before the Russian invasion that growth would be 0.3% quarter-on-quarter, so the preliminary Eurostat data, if confirmed later, would suggest the war and related commodity price spikes cut growth by 0.1 percentage points.

Eurostat said Italy's economy contracted 0.2% in the first quarter against the previous three months, which would make it the biggest euro zone casualty of the conflict.

In February, the Commission forecast Italy would grow 0.3%.

Germany, expected by the Commission to grow 0.4% in the first quarter grew by only 0.2%, Eurostat said.

France recorded no growth, according to Eurostat compared to a Commission February forecast of 0.1% expansion.