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Portugal exports hit record as growth returns: stats agency

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Portugese exports, the economy's crucial engine, grew by 5.5 percent from a year ago to a record 4.29 billion euros, official data showed on Friday, helping the country end two years of recession.

Trade from Portugal was dominated by exports towards countries outside the European Union, the INE statistics agency said, with commerce to emerging countries such as Morocco, Algeria, China and Brazil "growing significantly".

But imports also rose sharply in July, up 10.5 percent in 12 months, to reach 5.19 billion euros ($7.7 billion) leaving a trade deficit up 42.5 percent from a year ago to 902 million euros.

The export data comes as bailed-out Portugal confirmed on Friday that the economy had grown by 1.1 percent in the second quarter ending more than two years of continuous contraction.

And helped by a summer jobs boom, soaring unemployment has also reversed, falling to 16.4 percent from 17.7 percent the previous quarter, though analysts believe the fall could only be seasonal.

Portugal has pushed through of a series of strict austerity programmes in exchange of a 78-billion-euro bailout agreed in May 2011.

While the country was at first considered a better student of bailout programmes ordered by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, anger at austerity has grown sharply in recent months.

In July, the surprise resignation of then finance minister Vitor Gaspar, threw the government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho into disarray and on the verge of collapse.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130906/portugal-exports-hit-record-growth-returns-stats-agency