Falling business investment and consumers' reluctance to spend even at Christmas damaged the euro zone's economy in the last three months of last year, which policymakers hope signals the lowest point in the bloc's recession.
Economic output from the 17 nations sharing the euro fell 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on Wednesday, confirming its earlier reading, the biggest quarter-on-quarter fall in a year of contraction.
As expected, the euro zone ended the year in its second recession since 2009, a reality already too well-known to millions of Europeans suffering from record unemployment and a debt crisis that nearly broke up the currency area last year.
Eurostat fleshed out its numbers, showing Germany as the only major euro zone economy to grow in the quarter, although growth slowed to a crawl, while France, Spain and Italy all contracted.
Overall, government spending made no contribution to gross domestic product in the final quarter of 2012, highlighting the German-led austerity that is aimed at cutting budget deficits but which many economists say is deepening the recession.
A lack of spending by households shaved 0.2 percentage points from the quarterly GDP figure, and business investment also dragged down output by the same margin.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Rex Merrifield)