Ireland's economy rebounded strongly in the third quarter, official data showed Thursday, just days after it became the first eurozone nation to exit an international bailout.

Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 1.5 percent in the July-September period compared with the previous three months, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said in a statement.

Second-quarter growth was upwardly-revised to 1.0 percent compared with the prior growth estimate of 0.4 percent.

The CSO added however that first-quarter GDP shrank by 1.1 percent, which was worse than the previous estimate of a 0.6-percent contraction.

The figures coincide with gains on the jobs front in recent months as the number of people claiming unemployment benefits continued to fall in November, down to 12.5 percent from a high of 15.1 percent last year.

Ireland's third quarter growth was much stronger than both the European Union and eurozone average.

"The euro area overall was 0.1 percent and the EU (was) 0.2 percent so that's a bit of context for looking at this result," CSO spokesman Michael Connolly told reporters in Dublin.

Meanwhile revised data showed that Ireland avoided falling into a technical 'double-dip' recession last year, following an upward revision to the fourth quarter of 2012.

"Most commentators here would say that the official GDP data are understating the true level of activity in the Irish economy," said economist Alan McQuaid at Merrion Stockbrokers.

"It is hard to reconcile the strong employment performance we've seen in recent quarters with the official GDP numbers."

The rebound was largely driven by domestic demand with consumer spending registering a 0.9-percent rise on the quarter.

Thursday's upbeat news came after Ireland had on Sunday emerged from a huge rescue programme funded by the International Monetary Fund and European Union.

As a condition of the 85-billion-euro ($117-billion) bailout, Dublin accepted tough measures insisted upon by the EU and IMF, including spending cuts, tax rises and structural reforms.

The Irish government on Tuesday promised a "job-rich recovery" in a medium-term economic plan that however contained few concrete measures.

However, some commentators are cautious on the prospects of the Irish economy.

"In 2013 as a whole, the economy looks likely to have grown by a modest 0.3 percent or so, only a fraction above 2012's 0.2 percent expansion," said Jonathan Loynes of research group Capital Economics.

McQuaid added that any positive growth is likely to be "marginal".

"On the basis of the GDP figures for the first three-quarters of the year, it is hard to see the economy posting positive growth for 2013 as a whole," he said.

"Still, the economy is set to show a stronger performance in the second half of 2013 than in the first half, and that upward momentum should lead to a positive carryover into 2014," he added.


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