Italy exited recession in the third quarter of the year when its gross domestic product rose 0.6 percent, according to a preliminary estimate released by the central statistics agency ISTAT. It was the first time the Italian economy grew in more than a year.

The economic expansion between July and September followed five consecutive quarterly contractions. Italy saw its worst post-war recession in the first months of last year.

Italy’s GDP in the third quarter was down 4.6 percent compared with July-September last year, ISTAT said.

The figures were largely in line with forecasts. Economists had predicted a 0.6 percent quarterly GDP rise and a 4.7 percent year-on-year decline.

Analysts hailed the end of the recession in Italy but expected growth to slow in the fourth quarter and to continue to weaken next year amid rising joblessness and a strong Euro.

Italy was the third large Euro zone economy to release GDP data for the third quarter Friday.

Germany and France posted quarterly economic growth of 0.7 and 0.3 percent, respectively, between July and September.

Both economies emerged from recession in the second quarter of the year with 0.3 percent growth.

Germany, France and Italy account for more than two-thirds of aggregate output in the eurozone - the 16 countries which have adopted the euro as their common currency.

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