The French and Spanish economies increased at a steady pace in the second quarter, thanks to stronger exports and tourism, according to statistics released on Friday, indicating a probable eurozone recovery.
According to data from INSEE and INE, the French and Spanish statistics agencies, France’s GDP increased by a faster-than-expected 0.5% in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, while Spain’s economy rose by 0.4%.
French growth was driven by exports, INSEE said, while in Spain, external demand, which includes foreign tourism, a pillar of the country’s activity, led the growth.
“We see that for the first time, French growth is driven by exports, by corporate investment much more than by household consumption,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio.
“This shows once more that our production engine is running well and efficiently.”
The data from French and Spanish economies, respectively the euro zone’s second- and fourth-largest, bode well after the euro zone’s growth was 0% in the first quarter of this year.
The French economy sped up from a revised 0.1% in the first quarter, INSEE said in its quarterly GDP report. A Reuters poll of 29 economists had an average forecast of 0.1% (FRGDPP=ECI) with estimates ranging from 0.3% to minus 0.1%.
Spanish GDP growth, on the contrary, decelerated slightly from a revised 0.5% expansion in the first quarter.
Spanish unemployment hit a 15-year low in the second quarter of this year, with a record 21 million people employed, INE data showed on Thursday, while 12-month inflation in Spain, at 2.3%, was one of the region’s lowest in July.
“The economic policy works, as the strong growth, job creation and price stability show,” Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on the Telegram social media platform.
Unlike France and Spain, Austria, a much smaller economy, shrank 0.4% in the second quarter due to a slowdown in construction and industry.