(MARKETWATCH) — Europe’s long-running debt crisis dragged the 17-nation euro zone back into recession in the third quarter, data showed Thursday, offering a negative counterpoint to growing optimism among U.S. and global investors over prospects for the global economy.

Third-quarter euro-zone gross domestic product shrank 0.1% compared to the second quarter, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat said. That’s equal to an annualized contraction of around 0.4%.

That follows a 0.2% quarterly contraction in the previous three months. A recession is widely defined as two consecutive quarters of shrinking GDP.

The figures “didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. However, they did confirm that things are as bad as we thought. And when sentiment in the markets is already at such lows, it doesn’t take much of a push to send stocks lower,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari U.K. in London.

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