Spanish Growth Slows in Third Quarter as Imports Jump

  • Statistics office publishes details of third-quarter GDP
  • Government forecasts Spain's economy to grow 3.3% this year

The Spanish economy slowed in the third quarter, indicating the recovery may have peaked ahead of next month’s general election.

Import growth accelerated to 4 percent from 1.6 percent in the previous quarter as gross domestic product expanded by 0.8 percent, the Madrid-based National Statistics Institute said Thursday. Exports rose 2.8 percent in the three months to September, while household consumption increased by 1 percent.

Spain’s economy is among the fastest growing in the euro region this year as employment rises and lower energy prices coupled with tax breaks and easier financing conditions boost spending power. In its monthly economic bulletin published Nov. 24, the Bank of Spain said expenditure by families on consumer goods maintained a “high level of dynamism” going into the fourth quarter.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who faces a ballot on Dec. 20, has forecast the economy will expand 3.3 percent this year and 3 percent in 2016. The 60-year-old conservative is campaigning on a platform of growth and stability, presenting himself as the guardian of the recovery.

The pace of quarterly expansion matched the statistics office’s initial estimate released Oct. 30. That’s down from 1 percent in the second quarter, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of growth. From a year ago, GDP increased 3.4 percent, while the pace of job creation accelerated to 3.1 percent.

Despite the slowdown in the third quarter, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said growth remains strong and the economy will “clearly” expand by more than 3 percent this year. Earlier this week, Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro said the pace of tax collection through October pointed to sustained expansion this quarter, which includes the crucial Christmas period. The European Commission expects growth of 2.8 percent in 2015 and 2.6 percent next year.

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