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Gov't statistics show Spain's economy grew 0.4 pct in Q1, fastest since crisis began in 2008

The Spanish economy grew at its fastest rate in six years in the first quarter, a strong indicator that the country is recovering from a severe crisis.

The National Statistics Institute said Wednesday the economy expanded by 0.4 percent January through March. It was the best quarter since the first three-month period of 2008, when the economy grew by 0.5 percent.

The first quarter rate was double that of the previous three-month period.

Compared with a year earlier, the economy grew by 0.6 percent in the quarter, the first annual growth figure after nine quarters of contraction.

Spain emerged from a double-dip recession in the third quarter of 2013 but is still battling with a 26 percent unemployment rate.