Spain’s industry grows at fastest pace since 2010

SPANISH industrial production sped up significantly in the year to February, rising by 2.8 per cent, more than twice as fast as January’s pace and the best reading in more than three years.

Despite the improvement, Spain’s industrial production is still relatively low compared to 2010 levels, down by nearly a tenth.

Victor Echevarria of BNP Paribas said that the boost was consistent with their forecast for 0.3 per cent growth this quarter, and with improved purchasing managers’ index figures, as positive confidence data begin to match up with official statistics.

Figures for Germany’s industrial production were also released yesterday, with a year-on-year rise of 4.8 per cent recorded in February.

The reading is 0.1 percentage points below January’s figure, but 0.1 percentage points higher than was expected.

Commerzbank analysts weighed in to suggest the figures confirmed their forecast too, with the group expecting 0.8 per cent growth in the first quarter of the year: “In the second quarter, growth should weaken somewhat by quarterly comparison as we will no longer see any weather effects. For the full year, a plus of about two per cent should be registered for the German economy.”

The monthly Sentix investor confidence index was also released yesterday, showing increased optimism about the currency union this month. The index is now at a three-year high, the best score recorded since the European Central Bank’s aborted attempt to raise interest rates during the summer of 2011.

The positive results are likely to contribute to the wider debate about whether the Eurozone will go for a quantitative easing policy in the months ahead. Though as the figures suggest, growth is firming in much of the region, inflation came in particularly low in March, with consumer prices rising by only 0.5 per cent in the year to last month.