Spanish economy picks up pace in quarter: official data

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Spanish economic activity picked up gently in the first quarter of 2011, official data showed on Wednesday, but could not prevent the jobless rate shooting to a record high.

Boosted by a surge in exports, gross domestic product rose 0.8 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, the National Statistics Institute reported. That compared to 0.6-percent growth the previous quarter.

Exports supported the lift in activity, rising 11.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.

But domestic demand remained weak, the figures showed, as households buckled under the high unemployment rate.

Spain's jobless rate hit 21.19 percent in the first quarter of this year, the highest in the industrialised world. For under-25s the unemployment rate was 44.6 percent.

Economic output expanded 0.3 percent in the first three months of 2011 when compared to the previous quarter, the figures showed. That was up from a 0.2 percent pace in the final quarter of 2010.

© 2011 AFP

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