June 4, 2018 / 10:16 AM / 4 months ago

Net exports help Greek economic recovery gain traction in first quarter

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s economy grew for a fifth straight quarter in January-to-March and at a faster pace than in the previous three months, helped by stronger exports, the statistics service (ELSTAT) said on Monday.

Seasonally adjusted data showed gross domestic product grew 0.8 percent in the first quarter compared to an upwardly revised 0.2 percent in October-to-December.

The data suggests that Greece’s recovery is gaining traction after a lengthy recession in which national output shrank by 25 percent, boosting hopes that it will successfully emerge from years of bailouts in August when its current aid program ends.

In year-on-year terms, Greece’s expansion accelerated to 2.3 percent in the first quarter from an upwardly revised 2.0 percent growth rate in the last quarter of 2017.

“It was the strongest annual pace of growth in a decade, with net exports the main driver, offsetting a negative base effect from investment spending,” said National Bank economist Nikos Magginas.

The data showed a positive GDP contribution from net exports with imports down 2.7 percent compared to the same quarter a year earlier and exports rising by 9.5 percent.

“The better-than-expected performance in the first quarter gives credence to official forecasts for full-year economic growth of around 2.0 percent this year,” Magginas said.

The latest EU Commission forecast sees Greece’s economy expanding by 1.9 percent in 2018, while the International Monetary Fund projects growth of 2.0 percent.

The data also showed gross capital formation fell 8.3 percent year-on-year while private consumption rose 1.3 percent.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Gareth Jones

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