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Spanish industry, unemployment improve

MADRID, Jul 2 – Spanish statistics pointed to a three-month uplift in the beleaguered economy here on Friday, saying that industrial output rose in May and unemployment fell in June.

In a week in which rating agency Moody\’s gave Spanish public debt a gloomy assessment against a background of tough austerity to fight overspending and expected sluggish growth, official data showed that industrial production had risen in May for the third month running.

The increase amounted to 3.3 percent from the level of production 12 months earlier, and for the first five months of the year the cumulative figure from the statistics agency Ine showed a rise of 1.3 percent.

But at IHS Global Insight, analyst Raj Badiani commented: "Nevertheless, this was still a disappointing outcome given industrial output had fallen by 20.5 percent year-on-year in May 2009, and suggests the sector is struggling to regain its pre-crisis levels.

In the whole of 2009, industrial output slumped by 15.8 percent from the 2008 level.

"In addition, the important categories of consumer durables and capital goods continued to retreat during May 2010, hinting that the economy is failing to generate any momentum after emerging from recession in the first quarter of 2010," added Badiani.

"IHS Global Insight is fearful that the economy could slip back into a technical recession by the end of 2010, with consumer spending likely to fall away in the second half of the year following the record drop in confidence in May and the planned rise in VAT (sales tax) by two percentage points to 18 percent from July."

The labour ministry reported that the number of people unemployed in June had shown the third monthly fall in a row, marking a drop of 83,834 people registered in the month.

"It is the best month of June since 1997," junior employment minister Maravillas Rojo said.

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This left the total of unemployed at 3.98 million, the labour ministry said. The ministry uses its own method of calculation, not that used by Ine which said in its latest data that at the end of March there were 4.6 million unemployed or 20.05 percent of the workforce.

Spain edged out of recession in the first quarter of the year with quarterly growth of 0.1 percent, having entered recession at the end of 2008.

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