Spanish economic recovery gathers pace, minister says challenges ahead
Spain's economy grew for a second straight quarter in the final three months of 2013, data showed, as the economy minister highlighted challenges ahead, notably bringing down the country's high unemployment rate.
The economy grew 0.3pc on a quarterly basis, up from 0.1pc expansion in the previous quarter, Thursday's National Statistics Institute (INE) data showed.
That was in line with forecasts by economists polled by Reuters and by the Bank of Spain.
On an annual basis, the economy shrank by 0.1pc, a narrower contraction than the 1.1pc of the previous quarter and also in line with economists' expectations.
true Signs of a recovery in domestic demand, which shrank at slower pace between October and December than previous quarters, and growing exports helped lift the economy at the end of 2013, INE said.
Spain's economy has been in and out of recession since a property bubble burst six years ago, gutting domestic demand and sending unemployment soaring to record highs. However, the number of people without jobs fell at the end of 2013 from a year earlier, the first annualized drop in six years.
"These are positive elements which, to some extent, show we've left the recession behind, but we still have a great deal to do. The path ahead is full of obstacles which, above all, includes an unemployment rate of 26pc," Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said during a radio interview on Thursday.
Stronger-than-expected economic data in the second half of last year prompted economists to raise their growth forecasts for 2014, with Guindos saying earlier this week he expected growth of around 1pc this year, up from the official 0.7pc target.
In 2013, the economy contracted by 1.2pc from a year earlier after shrinking 1.6pc in 2012, INE reported. Final data with a breakdown of fourth quarter gross domestic product will be published Feb. 27.