German government halves 2019 growth forecast to 0.5%

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN — The German government has slashed its 2019 economic growth forecast for the country for the second time this year and is now predicting growth of only 0.5%.

Wednesday's forecast halves the 1% estimate the government presented in late January, when it cut its forecast from 1.8%. It follows a string of downgrades by economists and other groups.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier predicted growth of 1.5% in 2020.

Prospects for Germany, Europe's biggest economy, have been weighed down by weaker growth elsewhere and by the after-effects of its own weak performance at the end of last year, when it was dragged down largely by one-time factors related to new car emissions standards.

Last year, gross domestic product expanded by 1.4%.

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