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Minister reports Spanish economy grows by 0.3% in 4th quarter of '13

MADRID--Spain's economy grew by about 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, faster than the 0.1 percent seen in the previous quarter, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said Monday.

“The recovery is fragile but it is a recovery,” he told a parliamentary hearing.

The Spanish economy returned to growth in the three months to September, putting an end to a recession that lasted over two years, ravaged public finances and left one-in-four workers without a job.

Spain's conservative government is forecasting a 1.3-percent economic contraction in 2013 and 0.7-percent growth in 2014, a pace considered by many analysts to be insufficient to lead to net job creation.

The government, which took power in December 2011, has enacted reforms making it easier to change work conditions and cheaper to lay off staff in a bid to revive the economy.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that Spain faces five more years with unemployment rates topping 25 percent unless it enacts yet more reforms including measures to help firms slash wages instead of axing staff.

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