Spain's annual gross domestic product expanded at its lowest rate in three years in the first quarter, preliminary data showed today. 

The Spanish economy has been expanding at 3% or above in annual terms every quarter since the beginning of 2015.

But it only rose 2.9% in the first quarter this year from a year earlier in a sign the expansive phase may be slowing. 

Analysts said the deceleration was due to lower private consumption, and a slowdown in the tourist industry which has been hit by terrorist attacks and uncertainty over the political situation. 

16 people were killed last August in Barcelona when a van driven by a suspected Islamist militant mounted a pedestrian walkway and in follow-up attacks in nearby Cambrils. 

An independence drive by Catalonia which has stoked a political crisis between Barcelona and Madrid has also lead to reports of lower prices and spending by tourists in the last few months. 

Official forecasts see economic output up 2.7% in 2018 from a year earlier, the lowest since 2014 when output increased by 1.4%. 

Spain was at or near recession from 2009 to end of 2013 after a burst property bubble in 2008 sent the economy in to a downward spiral, leaving millions out of work and sending thousands on companies to the wall. 

The economic recovery since has outpaced the rest of Europe, driven by strengthening exports and rising domestic demand. 

The preliminary data today gave no breakdown of growth. Final GDP will be published May 31. 

Today's data showed the economy rose 0.7% in the first quarter from a quarter earlier, marking three consecutive quarters of identical growth. 

Meanwhile, consumer prices rose slightly less than expected in April, up 1.1% in EU-harmonised terms from a year earlier compared to a Reuters forecast of 1.2% and previous reading of 1.2%, flash data showed. 

Inflation eased in April due to lower package holiday and gas prices after rises registered in the same month last year, INE said.