Spain shows fastest growth in six years: central bank

MADRID (AFP) - Spain's economy grew at the fastest pace in six years in the first quarter of 2014 as it pulled its way out of a long, job-destroying downturn, the central bank said in a preliminary estimate Thursday.

The eurozone's fourth-largest economy expanded by 0.4 per cent on a quarterly basis, the Bank of Spain said in a monthly report, citing available but as yet incomplete data for the period.

It was the sharpest quarterly growth rate since the first quarter of 2008 when a decade-long property bubble imploded, tipping the nation into a recession that wiped out millions of jobs and flooded the nation in debt.

"In the first quarter of 2014, the Spanish economy continued on a path of gradual recovery in the a context of increasing normalisation on the financial markets and a gradual consolidation of the labour market," the central bank said.

On an annual basis, the Spanish economy grew 0.5 per cent in the first quarter, the bank estimated, the first year-on-year expansion in more than two years.