Eurozone economy shrinks a bigger-than-expected 0.6 percent in Q4 as Germany falters

Official figures show the recession across the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro deepened in the last three months of 2012 as Germany faltered in the face of anemic demand across the debt-ridden region.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, says Thursday the eurozone economy shrank by 0.6 percent in the final quarter of 2012 from the previous three-month period. The decline was bigger than the 0.4 percent drop expected in markets.

That means the eurozone has contracted for three straight quarters. The declines weren't just confined to the supposedly weaker economies such as Greece and Spain. Germany, Europe's biggest economy, shrank by a quarterly rate of 0.6 percent as demand for its exports fell.