Slovenia April exports surge, bad loans also rise

LJUBLJANA, June 7 Fri Jun 7, 2013 7:09am EDT

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LJUBLJANA, June 7 (Reuters) - Exports in Slovenia rose almost 10 percent year-on-year in April, data showed on Friday in a rare positive signal for the euro zone country that is struggling to avoid a bailout amid rising unemployment and recession.

The monthly export growth of 9.8 percent was the highest since August 2011, the statistics office said, with exports in the first four months up 3.5 percent.

However, bad loans held by local banks inched up further in the first four months of the year, the state macroeconomic institute said on Friday, while unemployment peaked at a 20-year high of 11.1 percent in the first quarter.

Bad loans rose by 185 million euros ($244.10 million) but the rise was some 25 percent lower than in the same period last year, the institute said.

Local lenders, most of them state-owned, are saddled with some 7 billion euros of bad loans, which is choking the economy and has prompted speculation that Slovenia may follow Cyprus in seeking an international bailout. ($1 = 0.7579 euros) (Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Susan Fenton)

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