FRANKFURT, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Economic activity in the euro area should gradually recover later in 2013 but there are more negative risks than positive ones, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Thursday.
The euro zone economy contracted in the second and third quarters of last year, meeting the technical definition of recession, and the downturn is expected to have deepened in the fourth quarter.
"The economic weakness in the euro area is expected to prevail in the early part of 2013," Draghi told a news conference after the ECB left its main interest rate unchanged at 0.75 percent.
"Later in 2013, economic activity should gradually recover, supported by our accommodative monetary policy stance, the improvement in financial market confidence... as well as a strengthening of global demand," he said.
Draghi's outlook for the year was similar to the one he gave a month ago.