The German economy narrowly avoided falling into recession during the final three months of 2018, according to official figures.

The Federal Statistics Office said growth was flat in the final quarter, therefore avoiding the two consecutive quarters of contraction defined as an economic recession.

Officials said the economy had struggled primarily as a result of slower global economic growth. Weakness in its car industry was also another factor, with German consumers reluctant to buy new cars due to confusion over new emission standards.

However, there is more optimism among economic experts who expect growth to pick up in the first quarter, with trade and consumer spending rising.