Spain expects stronger economic growth this year

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MADRID (AP) — Spain's economy minister the country's economic growth is likely to pick up speed and could hit 3.5 percent this year.

Luis de Guindos said Monday that indicators point to an acceleration in the economy, which grew by a robust 0.9 percent in the first quarter compared with the previous three-month period.

He said growth in 2015 as a whole would be closer to 3.5 percent than to the government's previous 2.9 percent prediction.

Spain was battered by the financial crisis and only emerged from a double-dip recession at the end of 2013. Its economy has grown for the past seven quarters.

The ruling conservative Popular Party hopes the recovery can limit its plunge in popularity in time for municipal and regional elections May 24 and general elections later this year.

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