First quarter economic figures released on Thursday showed Italy returned to negative growth, while an increasing number of companies went bankrupt. Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) in the first three months of 2014 decreased by 0.1 percent with respect to the last three months of 2013, national statistics institute Istat said in its preliminary estimate. On an annual basis, the Italian economy in the first quarter this year decreased 0.5 percent in comparison with the same period in 2013. Also on Thursday, figures from consulting firm Cerved reported by ANSA news agency said there were 3,811 bankruptcies in Italy between January and March, 4.6 percent more than in the same period of 2013. Earlier this week, the Italian central bank said the country's public debt -- which is around 133 percent of GDP -- in March rose to a new record high of 2.12 trillion euros (2.89 trillion U.S. dollars). Italy's longest post-war recession officially ended at the end of 2013, when the country's GDP grew 0.1 percent in the last three months compared to the previous quarter. In the three-year economic blueprint released in April, the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi forecast that GDP would grow 0.8 percent this year. Recent economic indicators, however, have suggested a phase of "substantial stagnancy" of the Italian economy, Istat said on Thursday.