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Coronavirus curbs hit euro zone Q4 GDP more than estimated quarter-on-quarter

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The euro zone economy contracted more than previously estimated in the last three months of 2020 against the previous quarter, revised data showed on Tuesday, as household consumption plunged because of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The European Union's statistics office said gross domestic product in the 19 countries sharing the euro fell by 0.7% quarter-on-quarter, more than the initial 0.6% estimate, for a 4.9% year-on-year drop, less the previous estimate of 5.0%.

The main downward pull came from household consumption which subtracted 1.6 percentage points quarter-on-quarter from the final quarterly result and 4.1 points from the annual number.

Growing inventories added 0.6 points to the final quarterly figure, government spending another 0.1 points and investment 0.3 points, but trade gave a negative contribution of 0.1 points.

Pandemic lockdowns, which have closed economies to various degrees across the single currency bloc since October, also hit jobs, with employment growth slowing to 0.3% quarter-on-quarter from a 1.0% growth in the previous three months.

In the last three moths of 2020, 157.9 million people were employed in the euro zone, Eurostat estimated, 3.1 million fewer than in the same period of 2019.

Counted in terms of hours worked, employment contracted 1.6% in the fourth quarter against the previous three months after a 14.4% jump in July-September when European economies briefly re-opened after the first wave of the pandemic.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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