German government raises 2018 growth forecast to 2.4 percent

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN — The German government forecast Wednesday that the country's economy, Europe's biggest, will grow by 2.4 percent this year, lifting its previous prediction significantly after a strong performance in 2017.

The new forecast compared with a prediction of 1.9 percent made in October.

In 2017, the economy accelerated to grow by 2.2 percent thanks primarily to increasing demand at home. That was the strongest performance for six years and the eighth consecutive year of economic growth.

A separate report earlier Wednesday showed that Germany's unemployment rate climbed to 5.8 percent in January due to seasonal factors, but the underlying trend of the labor market remained positive.

The Federal Labor Agency said the unadjusted jobless rate climbed from 5.3 percent in December, with the number of unemployed rising by 185,000 to 2.57 million. However, that figure was 207,000 lower than a year earlier.

The unadjusted rate, the headline figure in Germany, typically rises in January but labor agency chief Detlef Scheele said the increase was smaller than usual.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the jobless rate ticked down to 5.4 percent from 5.5 percent, with 25,000 fewer people out of work than the previous month — slightly better than economists' forecasts of a 17,000 drop.

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