Growth Returns to Europe!

Well, sort of:

The European Union’s official statistics agency Wednesday said the combined gross domestic product of the currency area’s 17 members was 0.3% higher than in the first three months of the year, but 0.7% lower than in the second quarter of 2012. It was the fastest quarterly expansion since the first three months of 2011.

That’s not exactly enough to put any kind of dent in Spain’s 25% unemployment, or shorten the soup kitchen lines in Athens. But here’s the really big news:

The French economy also played its part, with a 0.5% expansion, according to statistics bureau Insee. But an even greater source of surprise was Portugal, where economic activity picked up by 1.1%—by far the strongest growth rate recorded in Europe. Portugal is in the third year of an international bailout, and its economy hadn’t grown since the fourth quarter of 2010.

That’s right. Portugal kicked our butts last quarter, and even the French outperformed us.