Italy’s economy grew at the fastest pace since the second quarter of 2011, while this is the first increase since the third quarter of 2013, according to preliminary estimates from Istat, the national statistics office.
The return to growth comes after nine months of recession andzero growth in the last quarter of 2014.
The 0.3 percent growth rate, which beat forecasts of between 0.1 and 0.2 percent, matched that of Germany, and was just behind Britain, which grew at 0.4 percent.
European Commission said last week that Italy’s economy will grow by 0.6 percent this year, rising to 1.4 percent in 2016.
Exports will be the main driver of the growth, aided by a weaker euro, with the pace of growth picking up in 2016 as Italy benefits from increasing external demand and investment.
The unemployment rate – which stood at 12.7 percent in February – is forecast to marginally decline in 2015 and stabilize in 2016.