The struggling Spanish economy shrank 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, stoking concerns that a weak first quarter this year will see it back in recession, official data showed Thursday.
For 2011 as a whole, the economy expanded a meagre 0.7 percent, according to the figures which confirm initial estimates given January 30.
The slump, in a country where unemployment runs at nearly 23 percent, reflected a continued slowdown in domestic demand which could not be offset by exports, the INE statistics office said.
The 0.3 percent fall in output compared with the third quarter was the same as reported for the wider eurozone on Wednesday but the bloc managed overall 2011 growth of 1.5 percent, compared with Spain's 0.7 percent.
If the Spanish economy shrinks again in the three months to March, it would be in recession, as defined by two consecutive quarters of negative figures.
The government last week said it expected another contraction in the first quarter which would be worse than the fourth.
Spain emerged only at the start of 2010 from an 18-month recession triggered by the global financial crisis and a property bubble collapse that destroyed millions of jobs and left behind huge bad loans and debts.