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Spain

Spain logs alarming jobless rate as it exits bailout program

Fresh data have shown Spain is emerging only haltingly from a long recession. The fourth-largest eurozone economy saw its jobless rate rising again at the end of 2013, but that won't stop its exit from a bailout package.

Spain's unemployment rate rose to 26.03 percent in the final quarter of 2013, up from 25.98 percent in the previous three months, the national statistic institute INE reported Thursday.

The deterioration, albeit a minor one, spoiled a central bank report on a 0.3-percent economic expansion in the same quarter.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned Spain faced five more years with jobless rates topping 25 percent unless it enacted yet more reforms, also with a view to helping firms slash wages rather than cutting jobs.

Brussels watching closely

Spain: Working through retirement

The new jobless figures came on the day Spain was exiting its international bailout program under which it had secured a loan of up to 100 billion euros ($138 billion), but ended up using only 41.3 billion euros for its ailing banking sector.

Spain is the second of the eurozone's five rescue scheme beneficiaries to no longer need outside financial support a year and a half after being granted the aid package. Ireland completed its bailout program on December 15, 2013.

"For Spain, the bailout program has achieved its twin objectives of repairing and reforming the domestic financial sector," EU Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a statement. "But the challenges facing Spain remain considerable as efforts must continue to deliver a steady and sustained fall in unemployment."

hg/hc (dpa, AFP)

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