Figures show the eurozone has exceeded expectations for first quarter growth.

The region expanded by 0.6% - slightly more than the 0.5% anticipated by forecasters.

The improved result reflects a better performance by exporters prompted by the recent recovery of the dollar which made European goods more competitive on global markets.

The downside is that European consumer spending remains sluggish and analysts are doubtful whether a sustainable recovery is under way.

They say the zone's performance merely reflects a steady improvement in global growth, led by the US and China.

The European Commission is forecasting the zone will expand by 0.3 - 0.7% during the second quarter, rising to 0.4 - 0.8% for the third quarter.

It predicts eurozone growth of 1.7% for 2004 as a whole.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff