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Spain's economy grew at the fastest pace in six years in the first quarter of 2014 as it pulled its way out of a long, job-destroying downturn, the central bank said in a preliminary estimate Thursday. The eurozone's fourth-largest economy expanded by 0.4 percent on a quarterly basis, the Bank of Spain said in a monthly report, citing available but as yet incomplete data for the period. "In the first quarter of 2014, the Spanish economy continued on a path of gradual recovery in the a context of increasing normalisation on the financial markets and a gradual consolidation of the labour market," the central bank said. On an annual basis, the Spanish economy grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter, the bank estimated, the first year-on-year expansion in more than two years.
Munich (Germany) (AFP) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone went on trial in Germany Thursday accused of bribery in a case which threatens a jail term for the Briton who has controlled the motor sport for four decades. Ecclestone, 83, has denies charges of bribery and abetting breach of trust over a $44 million (31.8 million euro) payment he made to former German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who has since been jailed. Prosecutors charge the money was a bribe meant to ensure the German bank BayernLB sold its shares in Formula One to Ecclestone’s preferred bidder, CVC Capital Partners, to maintain his control over the sport. At the start of the Munich trial, watched by dozens of journalists, the diminutive Formula One magnate, wearing a dark suit, confirmed his name, date of birth, and occupation as Formula One manager.
Slavyansk (Ukraine) (AFP) - Kiev claimed it inflicted stinging defeats on pro-Kremlin rebels in east Ukraine on Thursday, as US President Barack Obama accused Russia of not abiding by a deal to defuse the escalating crisis in the ex-Soviet country. Shooting was heard in the rebel-held flashpoint town of Slavyansk, where a roadblock manned by insurgents was in flames, according to an AFP journalist. Ukrainian special forces retook control of the town hall in the southeastern port city of Mariupol and an army base in the eastern town of Artemivsk repelled an attack by heavily-armed rebels, Kiev's interior and defence ministries said. They were the first military successes announced by Ukraine's Western-backed government since pro-Russian militants seized control of a string of towns in the country's southeast over the past several weeks.