Net exports contributed -0.6 percentage points to GDP growth, marking a negative reading for the fifth time in six quarters. Private consumption added 0.3 percent, rising for the second straight quarter.
Domestic demand contributed a mere 0.1 percentage point to GDP compared with 0.9 percent in the third quarter, a worrying sign that the economic boost from rebuilding the earthquake-devastated northeast coast is slow in coming.
Corporate capital spending rose 1.9 percent after collecting 1.1 percent in the previous three months.
On an annualized basis, the contraction was 2.3 percent, a sharp turnaround from the 7 percent increase recorded three months earlier. On a yearly basis, GDP plummeted 1 percent.
For all of 2011, GDP was down 0.9 percent on year following the 4.4 percent increase in 2010. GDP fell 5.5 percent in 2009 and 1.0 percent in 2008.