Spanish Debt Hits Record 84.1% of GDP


Spain's public debt hit a new record of 84.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2012, owing to increases both at the federal level and that of the country's 17 autonomous regions, official data released on Friday showed.

The figure, which gained 14.8 percentage points last year to total 884.4 billion euros ($1.15 trillion), was well above the European Union (EU) limit of 60 percent of GDP, but came in a bit below the government's own forecast of 85.3 percent.

In the last three months of 2012 alone, the public debt grew by 6.8 percentage points.

The figures, used by the EU to determine if it must launch a procedure to correct a country's excessive public deficit, did not include a eurozone loan of 41.3 billion euros ($53.8 billion) to the Spanish banking sector.

According to data provided by the Spanish central bank, debt wracked up by the Spanish government and social security system alone amounted to 760.3 billion euros, or 72.3 percent of GDP last year, compared with 58.5 percent at the end of 2011.

The remainder of the debt was owed by autonomous regions and local governments.

A breakdown of the regional numbers showed that Catalonia was burdened with the most debt at 51 billion euros, followed by Valencia with 29.4 billion.

This year, the Spanish government expects the country's total public debt to rise to around 90.5 percent of GDP, while the European Commission has issued a more pessimistic outlook at 95.8 percent.

That could test the confidence of financial markets which had recently begun to improve with respect to Spain, but which on Thursday showed signs of concern.

In late trading on the secondary market for sovereign debt, the rate on benchmark Spanish 10-year bonds edged up to 4.860 percent from 4.766 percent at the close on Wednesday.

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