Europe

Strong 2016 growth brings Spain close to pre-crisis economy

The Spanish economy grew 3.2 percent in 2016 according to preliminary figures released by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) on Monday, consolidating three consecutive years of strong growth and in line with the government's expectations. Final figures are expected to be published in early March.

The conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has put economic growth and boosting jobs at the center of its policies. It has pledged to recover the losses of the brutal financial meltdown and return this year to pre-crisis gross domestic product levels.

The INE said that GDP grew by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter, the same as in the period from July to September, but slightly down from the first half of the year, when the economy grew 0.8 percent each quarter.