04/30/2012 04:07 EDT | Updated 06/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Government agency confirms Spain back in recession following 2nd quarterly contraction

MADRID - Spain's National Statistics Institute confirms that the country's economy shrank 0.4 per cent in the first quarter, placing the country back in recession.

The contraction, announced Monday, follows a 0.3 per cent decline in the final quarter of last year. This is Spain's second recession in three years.

Two consecutive quarters of economic contraction are seen as constituting a technical recession.

The institute's findings confirm figures advanced by the Bank of Spain last week.

It comes days after Spain had its debt rating downgraded by Standard & Poor's.