BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's recession likely deepened in the first three months of the year after the economy, Europe's biggest, shrank by 2.1 percent in the final quarter of 2008, the Economy Ministry said Friday.
The German economy, which went into recession in last year's third quarter, has been hit hard by falling demand for the country's exports during the global economic crisis.
In a monthly report, the Economy Ministry pointed to data showing that exports continued to fall in the January-March quarter.
The 2.1 percent quarter-on-quarter decline in gross domestic product seen in the fourth quarter already was the biggest since German reunification in 1990.
"The indicators point to the downward movement having, if anything, intensified somewhat in the first quarter of 2009," the ministry said.
Government officials have made clear that they will lower their prediction for full-year German GDP from the current forecast of a 2.25 percent contraction. An updated forecast is due at the end of this month.
Preliminary first-quarter GDP figures are expected on May 15.