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German gov't raises 2013 growth outlook to 0.5 pct

BERLIN (AP) -- The German government is raising slightly its forecast for growth this year, though it still expects Europe's biggest economy to expand by only 0.5 percent.

The new forecast issued Thursday compares with the previous prediction in January of 0.4 percent growth. The economy grew by 0.7 percent in 2012 — much slower than the two previous years but still a contrast with recessions elsewhere in Europe.

Economy Minister Philipp Roesler wrote on Twitter that the government is leaving its prediction of 1.6 percent growth next year unchanged. Its traditionally cautious forecast falls short of a recent prediction by leading economists that the economy will expand 0.8 percent this year and 1.9 percent next.

Germany's economy shrank in last year's final quarter but is believed to have return to growth since.