Money (illustration)
Money (illustration) Flash 90

Europe is slipping into a recession, according to data revealed by the European Central Bank on Wednesday.

Releasing figures ahead of a key ECB meeting scheduled for Thursday, the bank instead reported data that showed the euro zone appeared to have slipped back into recession in the current quarter.

The private sector has contracted for a seventh month, according to the ECB report, with problems extending even as far as Germany, the one nation which had managed to avoid the economic crisis till now.

Investors are still hoping that Washington will find a way to jump-start the economy. But it's still not clear whether Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will decide to step in to rescue the situation with more stimulus measures.

The composite PMI figure measuring manufacturing and services together dropped to 46.3, down 0.2 points from July's 46.5.

Even spot gold prices were down, dropping 0.37 percent to $1,687.89 an ounce in Europe; in the U.S., gold had also dropped 0.25 percent, at $1,692 per ounce.

At its last meeting, the ECB said it would consider buying government bonds from the more indebted large economies. On Monday, ECB officials added that purchases of bonds of up to three years' maturity did not constitute state aid.

Israel, meanwhile, is riding out the storm with austerity measures that have caused discomfort but little alarm. Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer prepared for the current scenario during the last global economic crisis three years ago, by buying dollars ostensibly to keep the mighty shekel from rising too high.