Figures expected to show recession

EU flagOfficial figures are expected to show the 17-country eurozone is in recession, though only just.

The eurozone has dodged recession during its three-year debt crisis, mainly thanks to the strength of its largest single economy, Germany.
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But even Germany is struggling now as confidence drains in the face of the turmoil afflicting large parts of the eurozone, mainly the southern economies of Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Five eurozone countries are already in recession, officially defined as two straight quarters of economic contraction. The figures may see more joining them.

Analysts expect the eurozone economy contracted by a quarterly rate of 0.1% in the third quarter. Following a 0.2% decline in the second quarter, that would put the eurozone in recession.

France's economy narrowly avoided recession, growing slightly in the third quarter, according to official statistics.

The French economy has not recorded growth since the third quarter of last year and had been widely expected to start its slide into recession in the third quarter - technically defined as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product.

Instead, Insee, the national statistics agency, said GDP rose 0.2% on an annual basis in the July-to-September period.

But the agency also revised down figures for the second quarter, saying the economy shrank 0.1%. It had previously said growth was stagnant, as it had been for the previous two quarters.

President Francois Hollande has promised to rein in massive government spending and reduce the deficit, largely by raising taxes. But those measures have put a stranglehold on growth, and the country has watched unemployment tick steadily up as a raft of companies announced layoffs in recent months. The jobless rate now stands at 10.8%, according to European statistics.
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