Spain's recession deepened in the fourth quarter of 2012, when the economy shrank by 0.6% compared with the previous three-month period.

In preliminary estimates to be confirmed next week, the Bank of Spain said it was the sixth quarter in a row that the economy contracted. It shrank by 0.4% in the third quarter.

The central bank's report today said that economic activity was down 1.7% in the fourth quarter compared to the same time last year. It estimated that it shrank 1.3% for the whole of 2012.

Spain's National Statistics Institute is to announce the official economic growth figures on January 30.