Dublin - A buoyant construction sector drove strong growth in Ireland's economy in the third quarter, putting the country on a sounder-than-expected footing as it emerges from an international bailout.
Gross domestic product expanded 1.5 percent year on year, data showed on Thursday, adding to signs of a pick-up with the jobless rate down to 12.5 percent from last year's 15.1 percent peak and property prices in Dublin on the rise.
Ireland became the first euro zone member to successfully complete a European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout programme last week.
It now requires growth to take hold if it is to meet a target of cutting its high debt pile by a quarter by the end of the decade.
Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected GDP to grow by 0.7 percent to expand for a second quarter in a row.
Ireland emerged from its second recession in five years earlier in 2013.
“This certainly suggests that there is a good bit of momentum in the economy and that the consumer is slowly coming back,” said Conall Mac Coille, chief economist at Davy Stockbrokers.
“Construction spending is up 15 percent on the year which is an extraordinarily large rate of expansion.”
Ireland's trade-dependent economy continued to feel the effects of the downturn in Europe, with exports down by 0.8 percent quarter-on-quarter.
But the domestic economy is showing signs of revival with consumer spending bouncing back from a sharp contraction earlier in the year to grow 0.9 percent in the quarter. - Reuters