Official figures show that the recession across the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro has extended into a sixth quarter.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, says nine of the 17 countries are in recession, with France a notable addition to the list. Overall the eurozone economy contracted 0.2 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter.

The eurozone has been shrinking since the fourth quarter of 2011. Initially it was just the countries at the forefront of its debt crisis, such as Greece and Portugal that were shrinking.

But the malaise is now afflicting the so-called core. Figures earlier Wednesday showed Germany grew by less than anticipated, and France is in recession — officially defined as two straight quarters of negative growth.