Euro zone seen sinking into recession
Economists expect EU statistics office Eurostat to say on Thursday that the bloc's output shrank 0.2 percent in the third quarter, as it did in the second quarter.
That would put the 9.4 trillion euro ($12 trillion) economy, which generates a fifth of global output, officially in recession, although Italy and Spain have been contracting for months and Greece is suffering an outright depression.
The distress in more vulnerable member states has progressively started to affect the remainder of the (European) Union, senior European Commission official Marco Buti said in a report this month forecasting a 0.4 percent contraction for the euro zone in all of 2012.
Hopes for a recovery next year are also fading, with the European Commission saying the economy will flatline in 2013.
A rebound in the euro zone could be vital for the rest of the world as the United States and China struggle with the impact of the crisis on their companies' ability to grow and prosper.
Millions of workers went on strike across Europe on Wednesday to protest the government spending cuts they say are driving the region into a deeper malaise but which Germany and the Commission say are crucial to healing the wounds of a decade-long, credit-fueled boom.
Output from euro zone factories dropped the most in nearly 4 years in September and companies as diverse as telecoms group Ericsson,
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