Economic growth drops in Germany, halts in France


Fresh numbers on Europe's two biggest economies are weaker than expected.

Official statistics show German gross domestic product shrank by 0.6 percent in the final quarter in 2012 as the European financial crisis took its toll on the continent's largest economy. The Federal Statistical Office says a drop in exports was the primary cause.

The drop came after the economy grew for the first three quarters of the year, and the statistical office says the economy grew by 0.7 percent for the year.

Meanwhile, French economic growth ground to a halt last year, with GDP contracting to a flat 0 percent.

Independent auditors for the government called on France earlier this week to get its finances in order, saying the country is spending too much money - much of it on wasteful programs - and not taking in enough money in taxes.

France is the world's 5th largest economy and the second-largest in Europe after Germany.

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