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Eurozone economy avoids recession

Germany's strong export performance helped the economy of the 17 countries that use the euro narrowly avoid a recession in the first quarter of the year, official figures show.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, found that the eurozone economy was flat when compared to the previous three-month period, though the figures provided clear evidence of the contrasting fortunes within the single currency bloc.

The flat outcome confounded expectations for a 0.2% decline, which would have put the eurozone back into recession - officially defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. In the last quarter of 2011, the eurozone contracted by 0.3%.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, was primarily behind the better-than-expected performance as a strong export performance helped it grow by 0.5 %.

The overall flat performance hides huge disparities in the eurozone, with the debt-ridden countries mired in recession.

Though a recession has been avoided for now, the figures will likely be used as evidence by those urging more growth in the eurozone.

The figures are subject to change as Eurostat collects more figures. Several countries, including Ireland and Slovenia, have yet to release quarterly figures and for Greece there are only year-on-year comparisons.

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