BRUSSELS, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Euro zone economic recovery slowed more than expected in the third quarter, weighed down by shrinking output in France and Italy, but was kept in positive territory thanks to economic expansion in Germany, data showed on Thursday.
The 9.5 trillion euro zone economy grew 0.1 percent in the three months to September from the previous quarter when it rose 0.3 percent - the first expansion in 18 months, the EU statistics office Eurostat said in its first estimate.
Analysts polled by Reuters had expected growth in the 17 countries sharing the euro to slow down only to 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter.
Compared with the same period of last year, the economy shrank 0.4 percent after a 0.6 percent drop in the second quarter. Economists had expected the third quarter decline to be only 0.3 percent year-on-year.
There were positive signs in the southern periphery with Portugal growing 0.2 percent on the quarter after a 1.1 percent rise in the previous three months and Spain returning to a tepid growth of 0.1 percent -- its first positive number quarter-on-quarter since the first quarter of 2011.
The nascent recovery is expected to get on a more solid footing next year and the economy is to expand 1.1 percent, according to the European Commission's latest forecasts. Growth should accelerate to 1.7 percent in 2015.