Spain growth negative in fourth quarter: minister

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Spain's economy will record negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2011, its new economy minister said on Monday.

"This quarter the Spanish economy will surely see a downturn and we will return to negative growth," Economy Minister Luis de Guindos told a news conference.

Spanish media said he later told reporters the economy would contract by 0.2 to 0.3 percent.

Media seized on the announcement as a sign that Spain will tip back into recession in the coming months, with two successive quarters of contraction. The minister avoided saying so explicitly, but gave a bleak outlook.

"Make no mistake, the next two months are not going to be easy, neither from a growth nor a jobs point of view," he said, speaking at a ceremony for his top ministry staff taking office following his nomination last week.

The fourth-quarter outlook "is logically going to determine the (economic) profile we will enter in the coming year, which is going to be a relatively slowed-down profile."

Spain suffered a recession brought on by the bursting of its real estate bubble in 2008 and the global financial crisis and returned to growth in early 2010.

© 2011 AFP

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