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Belgian Economy Stagnates Amid Signs Slump Will Deepen Again

The Belgian economy stagnated in the third quarter, narrowly escaping a second recession in 3 1/2 years amid signs an austerity-driven slump is spreading to Europe’s core nations.

Gross domestic product in Belgium in the three months through September was unchanged from the previous quarter, the National Bank of Belgium said today in a statement. That followed a 0.5 percent contraction in the second quarter. The euro area’s sixth-largest economy shrank 0.3 percent in the third quarter from the year-earlier period.

Belgian consumers have cut back spending this year, a report showed on Sept. 7, amid mounting concerns over joblessness and the prospect of 3.7 billion euros ($4.8 billion) in tax increases or spending cuts needed for the government to reach deficit targets next year.

The slump may be deepening as business confidence fell to a three-year low this month and consumer sentiment dropped to the lowest since February before Ford Motor Co. said on Oct. 24 it plans to shut its Belgian assembly plant in 2014, eliminating 4,300 jobs in the country.

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