The Spanish government expects first quarter growth to "at least" match the 0.2% expansion posted in the final quarter of 2013, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said today. 

Spain will post its third successive quarter of economic expansion in the January-March period, the Minister told a business forum in Madrid.

He said that he expects growth will be at least the same as that which Spain reported in the final quarter of last year.

The Spanish economy, the fourth largest in the euro zone, emerged from recession in the third quarter of 2013 when it posted growth of 0.1%.

Growth picked up in the fourth quarter of 2013 to 0.2%, adding to signs that the country is emerging from five years of stop-start recession which destroyed millions of jobs.

Spain's economy shrank by 1.2% over the whole of 2013, its fourth annual contraction in five years, as the country struggled with the aftermath of a decade-long property bubble that burst in 2008.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said in his state of the nation address last month that he saw the economy growing by 1% this year and by 1.5% in 2015.

The government's growth forecast in the 2014 budget had been for growth of 0.7% this year, but a boom in exports led it to upgrade that forecast.

"There will be job creation in 2014, which is a substantial change because it will be the first time that this is the case since the beginning of the crisis," the economy minister said.

Spain's jobless rate, which fell to an historical low of 7.95% in the second quarter of 2007 at the peak of the country's property boom, stood at 26.03% in the last three months of 2013.

Rajoy's conservative government, which took power in December 2011, said its labour market reforms, which made it easier for firms to change work practices and cheaper to lay off workers, have stopped the rot in the job market.