Portugal's economy contracted by 1.5 percent last year, pitching it into a double-dip recession amid an acute financial crisis, the country's statistics agency reports.

Portugal needed a euro78 billion ($103 billion) bailout last year to avoid bankruptcy after a decade of feeble growth.

The government has enacted steep pay and welfare cuts and tax hikes in an effort to reduce Portugal's debt burden, but the measures have crunched spending.

The National Statistics Institute said Tuesday that preliminary data indicated the downturn gathered pace in the final quarter.

The government forecasts a contraction of 3 percent this year as Portugal endures its worst economic period in recent memory.

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