Spain's National Statistics Office has said that the country's recession is worse than previously thought.

The economy shrank by 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the previous three-month period.

Today's figure was higher than last month's preliminary estimate of a 0.7% contraction and is more than double the third quarter's 0.3% drop.

Spain's economy has been shrinking for the last 18 months with unemployment standing at 26%.

The statistics department also said that economic activity was down 1.9% in the fourth quarter from the year-earlier period. For the whole of 2012, it shrank 1.4%.

The government said it predicts the economy will start to stabilise in the second half of this year and emerge from recession in 2014.