The eurozone economy shrunk by 0.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011 as the region's debt crisis triggered a slump in private consumption, trade and corporate spending, official data released Tuesday confirmed.
This came after the region's economy stagnated during the third quarter, the European Union statistics office Eurostat said releasing the data.
Many economists are expecting the eurozone will slide back into recession this year in the wake of slower global growth and moves by governments across the currency bloc to cut high deficit-and-debt levels by slashing their state sectors. The European Commission expects the eurozone to contract by 0.3 percent this year.
The Eurostat data showed eurozone gross domestic product (GDP) growing by 0.7 percent when the final quarter of 2011 is compared with the year earlier.
For the full-year 2011 the currency bloc grew by 1.4 percent -- down from 1.9 percent in 2010.
The Eurostat data confirmed the preliminary figures it published last month.
The figures showed private consumption falling by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter and fixed investment sinking by 0.7 percent.
While exports dropped by 0.4 percent in the last three months of 2011, imports tumbled by 1.2 percent.
GDP in 27-member E.U. also contracted by 0.3 percent in fourth quarter after growing by 0.3 percent in the third quarter. The E.U. economy grew by 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2010.
For the full-year of 2011, the E.U. economy expanded by 1.5 percent -- down from 2 percent in 2010.
Over the whole year 2011, GDP increased by 1.7 percent in the United States after expanding by 3.0 percent in 2010. GDP contracted by 0.9 percent in Japan following a 4.4 percent expansion rate in 2010.
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