DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s unemployment rate nudged down to a new three-year low and retail sales jumped to a three-year high, indicating the euro zone economy is recovering from recession as it nears completion of an 85 billion euro bailout.
Thursday’s data show the economy, which has contracted for three successive quarters but is still Europe’s best chance for a bailout success, is turning the corner and modest growth can be expected for the full year.
“The signs are there that we are over the worst. How long it takes to get back to where we want to be, is another question,” said Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Merrion Stockbrokers.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment was 13.7 percent in the second quarter of the year, down slightly from a revised 13.8 percent in the first three months, the Central Statistics Office said. The rate has fallen for five consecutive quarters from a crisis-high of 15.1.
Data also showed the volume of Ireland’s retail sales rose 6.1 percent in July to stand 4.7 percent higher on the year, helped substantially by a new registration system for cars. Excluding the motor trade, retail sales were up 1.3 percent on the month, still the strongest in nine months.
Ireland’s gross domestic product is expected to grow by just 0.4 percent this year, according to a Reuters poll, a second consecutive year of scant growth that would not be fast enough to lower the country’s debt load.
But indicators are now pointing towards a more positive second half, as economies in major trading partners Britain and the euro zone also start to pick up, economists said.
Reporting by Conor Humphries and Sam Cage; Editing by Toby Chopra