Eurozone economy shrinks by 0.3 percent in Q4



BRUSSELS (AP) — Official figures show that the 17-nation eurozone economy contracted by 0.3 percent in the final three months of 2011 as many countries slipped back into recession.

The decline was the first since the second quarter of 2009.

The eurozone, however, is not yet in recession as that’s only official after two quarters of negative growth — in the third quarter, the eurozone eked out growth of 0.1 percent.

Many eurozone countries are in recession, including Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.

Wednesday’s figures from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, were a little better than most predictions of a 0.4 percent drop. However an unexpected gain in France’s output and a smaller-than-anticipated drop in Germany had stoked some expectations that the figure would be even better than forecast.