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Euro zone economies see bigger contraction

ECONOMIC activity in the countries using the euro currency shrank by 1.6 percent in the final three months of 2008 compared with the previous quarter, according to new estimates released by the European Union's statistics agency yesterday.

Eurostat said the gross domestic product of the then 15 nations - Slovakia joined in January - fell sharper than the 1.5 percent it had previously estimated.

The hardest-hit countries were Ireland, which saw a 7.1-percent drop in the last quarter of 2008 compared to the third quarter. Germany saw its economy shrink by 2.1 percent, France by 1.1 percent.

Eurostat said gross domestic product across the entire 27-nation European Union was down 1.5 percent in the last quarter of 2008.

The only countries that posted growth were Slovakia, with 2.1 percent, Cyprus with 0.6 percent, and Greece and Poland, both at 0.3 percent.


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