MADRID Jan 15 Spain showed more optimism over
the state of its economy as top officials said on Wednesday it
had likely contracted less than expected in 2013 while growth
forecasts for this year could be revised up, both by the
government and international bodies.
Deputy Economy Minister Fernando Jimenez Latorre said at a
news conference that the country's Gross Domestic Product was
thought to have dropped by 1.2 percent last year compared to a
1.3 percent contraction initially foreseen.
He also said the growth target of 0.7 percent for 2014 could
be reviewed on the upside.
The country tentatively emerged from recession in the third
quarter and foreign investors have started to return, eagerly
buying Spanish debt and stocks in recent weeks.
The symbol of this turnaround, bailed-out lender Bankia made
its comeback on international funding markets last week and the
state, which owns a 68 percent stake in the bank is now mulling
selling a chunk of it to start recouping its money under
favourable market conditions.
Spain's economy is forecast to grow in 2014 even though
domestic consumption is still shaky and unemployment is still
running at 25 percent.
Nonetheless, a stronger economic recovery, the correction of
imbalances in the country and a sounder financial system should
now logically lead ratings agencies to raise their ratings on
Spain, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told a investment
conference in Madrid.
Trade Secretary Jaime Garcia Legaz had said earlier he was
optimistic the International Monetary Fund would revise up its
own growth forecast soon.
The IMF currently foresees a 0.2 percent economic expansion
in Spain this year.
(Reporting by Julien Toyer and Andres Gonzalez; Editing by