This was supposed to be the year that the European economy decisively broke free of its shackles. But after a dismal round of economic growth reports on Thursday, the main question appears to be whether the eurozone will avoid tumbling back into recession.Germany and Italy both contracted 0.2 percent in the second quarter, compared with the first, official data showed, and the French economy stagnated yet again. The region was beginning to falter even before the latest round of tit-for-tat sanctions with Russia over Ukraine further clouded the outlook.With the Continent’s three main engines sputtering, the gross domestic product of the 18-nation eurozone did not expand at all from the first quarter of this year, when it grew only 0.2 percent. The latest figure from Eurostat, the European Union statistics agency, equates to a meager 0.2 percent annual rate.
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