European Economic Data improve But Recovery Remains Sluggish

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European Union
Euro zone retail sales back in decline in June, France a bright spot. Pictured, European Union building.

A trio of positive economic indicators released Thursday point to a very slowly reviving Europe, with encouraging news from the UK, Spain and Germany.

The UK’s gross domestic product growth in the second quarter reached 0.6 percent, doubling the 0.3 percent growth for the first quarter, said the nation’s Office for National Statistics.

All four chief sectors of the UK economy, as defined by the office to include agriculture, production, construction and services, showed increases over the first quarter. The service sector contributed the most, with a 0.6 percent boost.

Overall, UK GDP was 1.4 percent higher than the same quarter in 2012.

Meanwhile, in Spain, unemployment fell slightly from 27.2 percent to 26.3 percent, in the first reduction in unemployment in about two years, according to Spain’s National Statistics Institute.

Tourism has helped boost employment in the nation, reports Reuters, with the unemployment-rate decrease the first since the second quarter of 2011.

Still, 5.98 million people in Spain are unemployed, the second-highest percentage of jobless people in the euro zone outside of Greece, which has an unemployment rate of 26.9 percent.

In Germany, the latest Ifo Institute Business Climate Index rose for the third straight month, reaching 106.2 and beating expectations of 102.4.

“Assessments of the current business situation are more positive than last month,” said Kai Carstensen, director of the Ifo Center for Business Cycle Analysis and Surveys, in a statement. “Conditions in the German economy remain fair.”

Still, the euro zone faces a continued debt crisis, with combined debt rising to 92.2 percent of collective GDP, the highest in history, in the first quarter of this year.  

The EU economy shrank by 0.4 percent in 2012, according to Eurostat, with a 0.1 percent contraction forecast for 2014 right now. 

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