The German economy grew by 3% in 2011, the Federal Statistics Office has said, which was in line with forecasts. It marks the second straight year of solid growth, following expansion of 3.7% in 2010. The economy shrank by 5.1% in 2009 during the recession. The annual figure was based on an estimate for the fourth quarter, with the official data for the last three months set to be published next month. Most analysts believe the economy shrank in the final quarter. A survey of 14 German bank economists by daily newspaper Die Welt, published on Monday, found that they believed the economy was also set to shrink in the first quarter of 2012. The predicted slowdown may be supported by a weaker pace of export growth. Exports rose by 8.2% in 2011, compared with growth of more than 13% in each of the previous two years. However, data on Monday showed that exports increased by a much higher-than-expected 2.5% in November, raising hopes that the fall in GDP in the fourth quarter may not have been as bad as feared. The economists surveyed by Die Welt predict a return to growth for the rest of the year, forecasting expansion of 0.5% in 2012.