Eurozone Recession Deepens Sharply

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BRUSSELS – The recession in the 17-nation eurozone deepened sharply in the fourth quarter of 2012 as the debt crisis continued to sap growth and confidence as jobs are lost, with the outlook remaining uncertain and weak, official data showed on Thursday.

The eurozone economy shrank 0.6 percent from the three months to September when it dropped 0.1 percent.

In the second quarter of 2012, the eurozone economy had contracted 0.2 percent on a sequential basis, meaning the recession has now lasted three quarters.

Analysts said the latest figures were worse-than-expected, with the major economies also now dragged down, including Germany, the bloc’s powerhouse.

Data so far in 2013 suggested the situation was stabilising, they said, but the outlook remained weak and hostage to key risks, such as the political uncertainty in Italy and Germany ahead of elections.

Compared with output in the fourth quarter of 2011, the eurozone economy contracted 0.9 percent, according Eurostat agency figures.

For the wider 27-member European Union, output fell 0.5 percent compared with third quarter 2012 when the bloc had eked out growth of just 0.1 percent to narrowly avoid being in recession, as defined as two consecutive quarterly negative figures.

Compared with fourth quarter 2011, the EU economy shrank 0.6 percent.

Eurostat said that for 2012 as a whole, the eurozone economy contracted 0.5 percent and the EU 0.3 percent.