Eurozone economy may have shrunk in late 2011

European union concept, digital illustration.
Emrah TURUDU

LONDON - A run of downbeat economic news has reinforced market expectations that the 17-nation eurozone's economy shrank during the last three months of 2011.

Analysts say the eurozone economy probably contracted by around 0.4 percent in the final three months of 2011 after growing only 0.1 percent in the third quarter. The first estimate for the quarter is expected on Wednesday.

The latest data released Tuesday suggest a negative number will be reported. Another poor set of eurozone industrial figures was accompanied by confirmation that Greece and Portugal remain mired in deep recessions.

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If the eurozone GDP data is negative, as expected, the eurozone as a whole would not yet be in recession, which is officially defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.