The next set of economic figures for the eurozone are expected to show the area's output contracted in 2011's last quarter (Reuters)

Eurozone countries are preparing for official confirmation that the single currency area is one step closer to a full recession.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, will publish output figures for the last three months of 2011 on 15 February.

They are predicted to show that the stricken eurozone area's economy shrank by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, after growing a measly 0.1 percent in the third.

If there is negative growth for two quarters in a row it is counted as a recession.

The statisticians have already reported that industrial production plunged 1.1 percent for December alone.

It was also confirmed that Greece and Portugal are both still stuck in deep recessions.

Eurozone countries are wallowing in a sovereign debt crisis, as the cost of borrowing spirals amid governments' struggle to pay back their debtors.

"European industry now produces about as much as it did in early 2005. In other words, the eurozone industrial output level now stands where it was seven years ago and has fallen about 11 percent from its peak level," Tom Ohlenburg, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), said.

"These figures offer an important perspective on the on-going sovereign debt crisis. The eurozone has failed to recover and is now backtracking rather than making progress."