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April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Spanish export growth accelerated in February, leaving foreign sales the only driver remaining for the euro region’s fourth-biggest economy as the strictest austerity push in decades tipped triggered a second recession since 2009.

Exports in February grew 4.9 percent from a year earlier. That’s a faster pace than the 3.9 percent in January. Still, the February level is a fraction of the 22.5 percent rate in the same month last year, the Economy Ministry in Madrid said in an e-mailed statement today.

Bank of Spain Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez said yesterday that “exports might be the only component of output to increase in 2012.” The government forecasts the economy will contract 1.7 percent as more than 40 billion euros in austerity measures cause domestic demand to shrink 4 percent, more than four times last year’s rate.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party government is aiming to cut the euro area’s fourth-largest budget gap to 5.3 percent of gross domestic product this year from 8.5 percent in 2011 to curb the nation’s borrowing costs. The International Monetary Fund forecast yesterday that the shortfall will be 6 percent this year and 5.7 percent in 2013.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angeline Benoit in Madrid at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at

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