Linde, the German maker of industrial gases, said on Tuesday it posted only modest growth in the first quarter, with the strong euro and sluggish economic recovery weighing on its performance."We have made a rather modest start to the new financial year," said chief executive Wolfgang Reitzle."Economic growth is still anything but strong. Exchange rate effects also continued to have an adverse impact on our business performance."The company said in a statement: "Linde achieved a slight increase in group revenue in the first quarter of 2014 when compared with the first quarter of 2013 and operating profit was not quite as high as the figure achieved in the prior-year quarter."In the period from January to March, net profit fell by 8.8 percent to 290 million euros ($404 million).Underlying or operating profit slipped by 0.6 percent to 518 million euros while sales grew by 1.5 percent to 4.045 billion euros.Looking ahead, Linde said it believed it was "still on track for the full year 2014 and confirms its previous outlook.""After adjusting for exchange rate effects, we expect to achieve solid growth in revenue and a moderate improvement in operating profit in the current financial year," declared CEO Reitzle.