July 29, 2014 / 11:11 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Spain to revise economic growth forecasts for 2014, 2015

* Spain to raise 2015 forecast to 1.5 percent from 1.2 percent

* Government will also cut unemployment forecasts in September

* Retail sales inch up in June (Adds quote, retail sales)

MADRID, July 29 (Reuters) - The Spanish government plans to revise its growth forecasts for this year and next, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on Tuesday, in the latest display of confidence in the strength of the economic recovery after a prolonged slump.

The minister said the economy was likely to expand by 1.5 percent this year, up from a previous estimate of 1.2 percent, and 2 percent next year, up from 1.8 percent.

Madrid will publish its official economic projections for the next few years as part of its 2015 budget proposal in September.

“We have a economy that has been brought back to health, productive and competitive, that stopped being a drag on the euro zone and is contributing, and making a difference, to its growth,” de Guindos said during an appearance in the lower house of Parliament.

Spain has been in, or close to, recession for almost six years. A burst property bubble had put millions out of work, sent public debt soaring and pushed the country close to default.

Since the economy emerged from the latest two-year recession in the second part of last year, stronger-than-expected data has prompted economists, including the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Spain, to raise forecasts.

Unemployment, while still among the highest in the European Union, fell to 24.5 percent in the second quarter from a high of near 27 percent last year, the sharpest year-on-year drop in eight years.

De Guindos said the government probably would also cut its unemployment forecast, which currently sees the jobless rate at 24.9 percent this year and 23.3 percent in 2015.

Meanwhile, retail sales expanded for the third straight month in June, official data showed on Tuesday, as cash-strapped Spaniards, long afraid of joining the unemployment lines, make a tentative return to the high street.

The National Statistics Institute will publish preliminary second-quarter growth figures in Wednesday, which are expected to show a quarter-on-quarter expansion of 0.5 percent, the fastest rate of growth in more than six years. (Reporting by Carlos Ruano, Writing by Paul Day, Editing by Sarah Morris, Larry King)

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