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MUNICH, May 24, 2019 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during Manfred Weber's last campaign rally ahead of the election in Munich, Germany, on May 24, 2019. "Europe stands for security and prosperity," Manfred Weber, top candidate of the European People's Party (EPP) for the European elections, said here Friday, calling on voters to defend Europe against nationalism. (Xinhua/Lu Yang/IANS) by .
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, took a massive hit during the pandemic shutdowns, shrinking by 10.1% percent during the April-June period from the previous quarter, the official statistics agency said Thursday.

It was the biggest drop since quarterly growth statistics began being compiled in 1970. The plunge far exceeded the previous worst-ever recorded performance, a fall of 4.7% in the first quarter of 2009 during the global financial crisis, reports said.

The government has enacted a multibillion-euro stimulus package of emergency loans, credit guarantees and tax breaks to cushion the impact. The German data release comes ahead of expected figures for Italy, France and the 19-country eurozone as a whole on Friday. Those numbers are likewise expected to be dismal, although they are backward-looking and don’t account for the rebound in activity after many of the toughest restrictions were lifted.

So far government support measures across the currency union have held the increase in unemployment in check, one factor that could help support the rebound. The jobless rate inched up to 7.8% in June from 7.7% in May, according to a separate report published Thursday.

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