BRUSSELS, May 15 (UPI) -- Eurozone economic activity contracted in the first quarter of the year, the European Commission's statistical office said Wednesday.
The decline of 0.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012 wasn't far off expectations, which predicted a 0.1 percent decline.
The numbers indicated the current recession in the 17-nation currency region hasn't been as severe as the 2008-09 recession but it has lasted longer. The current recession has persisted for six consecutive quarters.
On an annualized basis, the eurozone economy has contracted 1 percent and the economy of the 27-member European Union has declined 0.7 percent, the data agency Eurostat said.
On a quarter-to-quarter basis, the economy in Germany, which has the largest gross domestic product in the region, rose 0.1 percent. But the region's next three largest economies, France, Italy and Spain fell 0.2 percent, 0.5 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively, dragging the region's GDP lower.
The economy in Britain rose 0.3 percent but Britain isn't a part of the region that shares the euro as currency. The GDP also rose in the smaller economies of Romania, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Bulgaria.
Quarterly data weren't available on Greece, a noted trouble spot that has received billions of dollars in international aid, but on an annualized basis Greece's economy was listed as shrinking at a 5.3 percent rate.
Cyprus and Portugal, also recipients of bailouts, posted quarterly contractions of 1.3 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Data from Ireland, another bailout recipient, weren't available for Wednesday's report.