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Business

Spanish slump slows in second quarter

The recession in Spain has eased as rising exports helped offset weak domestic demand. A rise in business confidence adds to signals that the EU’s fourth largest economy might climb out of years of decline this summer.

Compared with a decline of 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, Spain's recession-hit economy contracted by just 0.1 percent between April and June, according to data released Tuesday by the national statistics office, INE.

The drop in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) was narrowed by rising external demand for Spanish goods and services, which helped partially compensate for further weakening demand within the country during the quarter, according to INE.

Nevertheless, the second-quarter result suggested that Spain might see the end of its prolonged economic slump this summer, said Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

Output in Europe's fourth-largest economy has been shrinking for eight consecutive quarters, after a decade-long real estate boom collapsed at the end of 2008. A recovery appears imminent in light of a slowdown in the pace of decline from 0.8 percent in the final quarter of 2012, and 0.5 percent at the beginning of this year to just 0.1 percent now.

Quarterly unemployment figures also fell this year, from 27.16 percent to 26.2 percent, INE data showed, with seasonal tourism accounting for most of the drop.

In related news, the European Commission's closely watched business confidence barometer, released on Tuesday, supported the upward trend for Spain.

The EU executive's Economic Sentiment Indicator (ESI) for Spain rose 1.2 points, which was largely in line with improving sentiments for the other major economic powers within the bloc such as Germany, France and Italy.

Across the crisis-hit 18-nation eurozone, economic confidence increased for a third consecutive month in July, rising from 91.3 points in June to 92.5 points this month.

uhe/mkg (AP, dpa, AFP)

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