The German economy ended 2015 on a firm footing as it managed to withstand slowing emerging markets, which have triggered concerns about the world economic outlook and prompted a sell-off of global shares.

Europe's biggest economy expanded by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of the year - the same as in the three months to the end of September, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said on Friday with strong domestic demand helping to offset weaker exports.  

"The economic situation in Germany in 2015 characterized by a solid and steady economic growth," Destatis said, pointing to the "positive contributions made by domestic demand" as the year came to an end. The fourth quarter growth rate was in line with analysts' forecasts

Public spending was also markedly up in the final quarter, the statistics office said, as Chancellor Angela Merkel's government boosted financial support to help handle the large influx of refugees into the nation.

Private consumption also increased slightly in the fourth quarter as a strong jobs market, low interest rates and higher wages encouraged households to spend.

Corporate investment, in particular in the building sector, also picked up as 2015 came to an end.

But Destatis said trade acted as a brake on growth following a fall in quarter-on-quarter exports in the wake of the economic slowdown underway in the world's emerging economies, notably China.

"Imports decreased, too, though less strongly," the statistics office said.

"The German economy has moved from a purely export-driven model towards a much more balanced model with domestic factors currently shielding the economy against external headwinds," said ING Bank's chief economist Carsten Brzeski. He noted that the nation's GDP has shrunk only three times in 27 quarters.

But Brzeski warned this year could be more challenging for Germany with worries about the world economic outlook having already helped to trigger a global sell off of shares this year.

Destatis is to publish details of the fourth quarter GDP at the end of the month.

The German economy grew by 2.1 per cent in the fourth quarter when compared with the same period in 2014 thanks in part to two extra working days. This compared to 1.7 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter.

Releasing the data, Destatis also confirmed the figure it published last month showing the nation's gross domestic product expanding by 1.7 per cent for the whole of 2015.

This came after German GDP came in at 0.4 per cent in each of the first two quarters of the year.

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