Euro zone economy falls deeper than expected into recession
By Philip Blenkinsop and Annika Breidthardt
BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Reuters) - The euro zone slipped deeper than expected into recession in the last three months of 2012 after its largest economies, Germany and France, shrank at the end of a wretched year for the region.
It marked the currency bloc's first full year in which no quarter produced growth, extending back to 1995. For the year as a whole, gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.5 percent
Economic output in the 17-country region fell by 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, EU statistics office Eurostat said on Thursday, following a 0.1 percent output drop in the third.
The quarter-on-quarter drop was the steepest since the first quarter of 2009 and more severe than the average forecast of a 0.4 percent drop in a Reuters poll of 61 economists.
Within the zone, only Estonia and Slovakia grew in the last quarter of the year, although there are no figures available yet for Ireland, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia.
The big economies set the tone.
Germany contracted by 0.6 percent on the quarter, official data showed, marking its worst performance since the global financial crisis was raging in 2009.
France's 0.3 percent fall was also slightly worse than expectations. Continued...