Eurozone recession deepens in first quarter: EU

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Recession deepened across the eurozone in the first quarter of 2013, the latest growth figures released by the European Union on Wednesday showed with a 0.2 per cent contraction between January and March.

That marked the fourth consecutive quarterly shrinkage of economic output across the 17 states that share the euro currency - home to some 340 million people - and a 1.0 per cent drop on a year-by-year comparison.

While core economy Germany clambered out of negative territory with 0.1-percent growth after a 0.7-per cent slide at the end of 2012, France logged a 0.2-per cent reduction and both Italy and Spain posted 0.5-per cent drops, the figures verified Eurostat showed.

"We expect the eurozone to suffer gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 0.7 per cent in 2013 with very gradual recovery only starting in the latter months of the year," said London-based IHS Global Insight analyst Howard Archer.

The latest official European Commission forecast for 2013 released earlier this month tipped a 0.4-per cent contraction.

No figures were given for Ireland, among the bailout economies, which appeared to have turned the corner in the previous quarter with flat instead of negative growth.

Cyprus, at negative 1.3 per cent, can expect a sharp acceleration later, given that the figure was for the period prior to bailout negotiations that saw banks in lockdown for a fortnight.