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Is Europe All Better Now?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Ever been in the hospital, wondering if you were going to die, and the doctor comes in to say that while you're sick he thinks you're going to recover?

Europe is like that right now.

The economies of the Eurozone grew by 0.3% in the second quarter of this year, with production of consumer goods leading the way. Most European exchanges rose slightly on the news, and the euro was basically unchanged against the dollar, at $1.32.

You could almost hear the relief across the continent.

Figures released by Eurostat show a wide disparity in growth rates. Countries where austerity has lifted, like Germany, grew their economies. Countries where austerity remains in place, like Greece, continued to contract.

The strength came from the center of the continent, from Germany and France. Germany grew 0.5% over a year ago, France 0.3%, and between them these countries hold 40% of the Eurozone's population.

Spain and Italy, the zone's other two big economies, were down 1.7% and 2%, respectively. Together Germany, France, Spain and Italy represent 74% of the zone's economy, according to Trading Economics.

The best economic performances were turned in by the Baltic countries bordering Russia. Latvia and Lithuania were both up over 4% from a year ago. But the Depression remained in force in Greece and Cyprus, both of which were down over 4% from a year ago.

If you're looking for a comparable number, the U.S. was up 1.4% from a year ago, according to Eurostat's figures.

The German economy seems to be where the economic power lies. The Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its ZEW index of economic confidence rose by 5.7% in Germany this month.

Most of the commentary on all this was restrained. Analysts expect continued slow growth with a risk of political instability that could bring on another round of contraction.

No one in Europe is popping the champagne corks, in other words. Except perhaps for bankers.

The zone's 10 biggest banks were all profitable during the first half of the year, and the huge writedowns that marked the heart of the crisis appear to be over.

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