MADRID Jan 30 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 0.3 percent on a quarterly basis, up from
0.1 percent 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 0.1 percent, a
narrower contraction than the 1.1 percent of the previous
quarter and also in line with economists' expectations.
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,
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 26 percent," 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 1 percent this year, up from the official 0.7
In 2013, the economy contracted by 1.2 percent from a year
earlier after shrinking 1.6 percent in 2012, INE reported. Final
data with a breakdown of fourth quarter gross domestic product
will be published Feb. 27.