World and Nation

Shorts (left)

German economy shrank in fourth quarter

FRANKFURT, Germany — The economic stagnation in Europe has taken a significant toll on Germany, with government figures released Tuesday showing that the Continent’s flagship economy contracted in the fourth quarter of last year.

The Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden estimated that the German economy shrank about 0.5 percent in the final three months of 2012, compared with the previous three months. The decline was largely the result of sagging investment by German managers worried about the future of the eurozone.

And despite reassurances from economists that growth would bounce back quickly in Germany, the data underlined how closely the country’s fate remained tied to its ailing eurozone allies.

Despite the contraction in the fourth quarter, a compilation of annual economic data by the statistical office showed that the German economy was in fundamentally good shape. Exports rose 4.1 percent during the year, and 41.6 million people were working — a new high and the sixth annual increase in a row.

—Jack Ewing and Nicholas Kulish, The New York Times

FDA expresses concern to St. Jude over heart device

The Food and Drug Administration has released a sharply worded warning letter to St. Jude Medical in which it said it might soon fine or take other actions against the company for failing to address agency concerns about a widely used heart device component.

The component at issue — an electrical wire, or lead, called the Durata — connects an implanted defibrillator to a patient’s heart. In the letter, dated Jan. 10, the agency said that St. Jude had failed to address a variety of concerns about the component arising from an FDA inspection last fall of a company factory in California.

In a filing earlier this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, St. Jude disclosed the receipt of the FDA warning letter. In that filing, the company said the agency had notified St. Jude that it would not, among other things, approve applications for complex medical devices until the problems found during the inspection were addressed.

Medical experts have raised concerns about the insulation used to seal the Durata’s electrical wires. St. Jude insists it is safe and is performing well. About 350,000 patients have been implanted with the Durata and the Riata ST Optim.

—Barry Meier, The New York Times