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Spain economy minister says '12 slump not as bad as feared

MADRID -- Spain's economic slump in 2012 will not be as bad as the government had been forecasting, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said Monday.

The decline in gross domestic product will be “less bad” than earlier thought, shrinking by about 1.3 or 1.4 percent this year, he told public radio RNE. The government has forecast a 2012 contraction of 1.5 percent.

De Guindos conceded, however, that the final quarter of the year will be “the hardest, it will be the most difficult.”

The Bank of Spain has already said the recession is expected to hold its grip on Spain in the last quarter.

The government is forecasting a 0.5-percent economic contraction next year, too, far more optimistic than most other analysts whose forecasts are centered on a 1.5-percent economic decline.

In the third quarter of 2012, Spain's gross domestic product shrank by 0.3 percent from the previous quarter and by 1.6 percent over the year, according to official data.

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