Madrid: Spain’s economy grew faster than expected and at its strongest pace since the end of 2017 in the first quarter on a quarterly basis, preliminary data showed on Tuesday, boosted by domestic demand and slightly stronger exports.

Spanish gross domestic product expanded by 0.7 per cent in the January to March period from a quarter earlier, above a Reuters forecast and the 0.6 per cent recorded in the previous quarter, the National Statistics Institute said.

Year on year, Spanish gross domestic product rose 2.4 per cent, the figures showed, also above a Reuters forecast of 2.3 per cent and the largest rise since the third quarter of last year.

Spain’s economy has consistently outperformed much of the European Union since it emerged from a five-year slump in 2013 though growth is expected to ease slightly this year as a weakening global economy weighs on exports.

Domestic demand contributed 2.2 percentage points to annual growth, while external demanded added a further 0.2 percentage points.

The preliminary figure also beat a Bank of Spain estimate, which saw growth of 0.6 per cent. The central bank sees Spain’s economy expanding by 2.2 per cent year on year in 2019 after 2.6 per cent last year.

Separately, Spanish retail sales expanded by 1.7 per cent in March, the fastest pace since October, INE said on Tuesday.

Spanish European-Union adjusted consumer prices, meanwhile, rose 1.6 per cent in April, INE said, lifted by a rise in package holiday costs after a price cut in the same month last year.

Spain and France both published preliminary inflation figures for April on Tuesday, with German data later and region-wide numbers due on Friday, expected at 1.6 per cent year on year.