Ireland has emerged from its recession on the strength of stronger exports and improved consumer spending, the nation's national statistics agency said Thursday.

The gross domestic product of Ireland, whose economy has been contracting for three successive quarters, increased 0.4 percent in this year’s second quarter, a figure within the range of up to 1 percent growth that economists had predicted. The early figures also warned of a 1.2 percent annual contraction in GDP.

“The bounce back to growth is a relief,” Conall MacCoille, an economist with Dublin-based Davy Stockbrokers, told the Financial Times. “But the government will have to revise down this year’s growth forecasts, which could limit its scope to ease up on austerity in the next month’s budget.”

Ireland’s finance minister, Michael Noonan, said the GDP figures suggested the country’s economy has stabilized, but they do not yet reflect improvements in employment, property prices and retail price data published in the summer. His department will publish updated forecasts in mid-October along with Ireland’s budget, which will reflect the latest GDP data.