YEREVAN, February 15. ARKA/. The 17-nation bloc slipped far deeper than expected into recession in the fourth quarter as economic giant Germany suffered its sharpest contraction since the height of the global financial crisis in 2009.
Euro area GDP fell 0.6pc in the last three months of 2012, marking the currency bloc's first full year in which no quarter produced growth, extending back to 1995, according to figures from European statistical agency Eurostat.
The worse-than-expected decline - the deepest since the first quarter of 2009 - was driven by GDP slumps in the bloc's major economies, including a shock 0.6pc contraction in Germany and a 0.3pc fall in French output in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile in Italy, the next largest eurozone economy, fourth quarter GDP shrunk a more-than-expected 0.9pc.
In Germany, where preliminary data showed the economy still grew on the year, albeit at just 0.1pc, weak exports from the nation's muscular manufacturing industry were blamed for the sharp fall in output.
"Comparatively weak foreign trade was the decisive factor for the decline in the economic performance at the end of the year: in the final quarter of 2012 exports of goods declined significantly more than imports of goods," the German statistics office said in a statement.
Germany's quarterly decline was deeper than economists' forecasts of a 0.5pc contraction and was the lowest since its economy contracted by 4.1pc in the first quarter of 2009.
In France, Europe's second biggest economy, the fourth quarter GDP contraction obliterated a tentative recovery made in quarter three and signalled that the nation could be lurching back towards recession. According to preliminary estimates by the national statistics agency, GDP remained flat on the year. –0--