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Spain's economy grows at fastest rate since 2008 despite 26% unemployment

MADRID--Spain reported Thursday the fastest economic growth since a devastating 2008 property crash, even as 5.9 million people searched in vain for work with the unemployment rate stuck at 26 percent.

Boosted by domestic demand, Spanish gross domestic product grew at a quarterly pace of 0.4 percent in the first three months of 2014, the highest rate in six years, the National Statistics Institute said.

Spanish economic activity, though still modest, has gradually accelerated since the nation emerged in mid-2013 from five years of stop-start recession sparked by the collapse in 2008 of a 10-year property bubble.

Though unemployment remains sky high, at 25.73 percent in the first quarter of this year, the International Monetary Fund said this week it believes the recovery is here to stay.

“Spain has turned the corner,” the IMF said in an annual report on the Spanish economy, which is the fourth-largest in the eurozone.

“We expect the recovery to continue over the medium term,” the Washington-based fund said, adding labor market trends were improving, too.

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