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Eurozone's Struggling Economies Mired In Recession

In the first quarter, the island's economy shrank by a quarterly rate of 1.3 percent. The EU's executive arm, the Commission, estimated in its Spring economic forecast that Cyprus's economy will shrink by 8.7 percent this year while its unemployment is set to hit 15.5 percent.

PORTUGAL

Portugal remains in recession â¿¿ even though the quarterly economic decline of 0.3 percent in the first three months of the year is substantially smaller than the previous quarter's 1.8 percent drop.

The country, which received a 78 billion euro bailout in 2011, is showing signs of improvement â¿¿ in spite of a new round of austerity measures recently announced. Last week, it raised 3 billion euros in long-term debt on international markets â¿¿ a milestone in efforts to restore investor confidence in the frail eurozone country.

SPAIN

Spain has been in recession for most of the past four years and has a record 27.2 percent unemployment rate. Its economy shrank by a quarterly rate of 0.5 percent in the first three months of the year.

The country came dangerously close to needing a sovereign bailout last year as the country negotiated a 40 billion euro bailout for its stricken banking system. It has since introduced a raft of spending cuts, tax hikes and reforms.

ITALY

Italy has also embarked on the austerity path to control its high debt levels, some 130 percent of its gross domestic product. That debt ratio is set to get bigger as its economy contracts. Like Spain, Italy's GDP shrank by a quarterly rate of 0.5 percent in the first quarter.

Carlo Sangalli, President of Italy's Confcommercio business lobby, called on the government to press ahead with measures to support domestic demand "and give the possibility for the real economy to recover and grow."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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