Spanish gov't, business woo investors on Wall Street

New York, May 10 (EFE).- Representatives of the Spanish government and some of the Iberian nation's corporate heavyweights were on hand here Friday for the Spain Economic Forum, held at the headquarters of Nasdaq.

"The principal challenge of the Spanish economy in this difficult situation is to recover confidence in the capacity to grow in the framework of (European) monetary union," Jose Luis Malo de Malina, Managing Director for Economics, Statistics and Research at the Banco de EspaƱa, told around 150 investors and analysts.

Spain is emerging from the financing squeeze that pushed the country into a second recession in four years, a slump that is "less severe, but more prolonged," the central bank economist said.

"Fortunately, that dangerous episode has been surmounted (and) the worst has been left behind," Malo de Molina said, forecasting that Spain's economy will stabilize by the end of this year, with a 0.1 percent drop in GDP for 2013 as a whole.

The next speaker was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who quipped about his shaky command of Spanish before touting the Big Apple as the gateway to the United States for firms from Spain.

Bloomberg noted that a subsidiary of Spanish construction giant ACS, Dragados USA, won the contract for a commuter rail line linking Queens with Grand Central Station.

Executives from Dragados, Telefonica, Indra, Santander, Iberia and Repsol offered perspectives on their industries, while Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, High Commissioner for Brand Spain, provided a broader view.

"Many people don't recognize the high-technology possibilities our country offers. We have to change our image of a traditional country to that of a modern one," said De los Monteros, who was recently in Miami for the quincentennial of Juan Ponce de Leon's discovery of Florida.