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Greek economic mood ticks up before election
May 3, 2012 / 11:16 AM / in 6 years

Greek economic mood ticks up before election

ATHENS, May 3 (Reuters) - Sentiment about Greece's economy,
now in its fifth year of recession, improved slightly in April
ahead of Sunday's national election, but less than before
previous elections, Greece's leading economic institute said on
Thursday.	
    The Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE)
said its index - based on consumer confidence gauges and indexes
for business expectations in manufacturing, construction, retail
and services - rose to 77.3 points from 75.7 points in March,
where 100 is the average level between 1996 and 2006. 	
    "Since 1981, economic sentiment has improved markedly every
time an election approached, boosting the positive outlook of
households and businesses. But this time there appears to be no
margin for particular optimism," IOBE said.	
    It said uncertainty about the economy and the implementation
of an austerity programme that Athens is carrying out in return
for an EU/IMF bailout continued to weigh. Almost 22 percent of
Greek workers are unemployed.	
    Political analysts say the outcome of the election is hard
to predict. Greek voters are unlikely to pick a clear winner,
meaning parties will need to form a coalition government to
carry on with the policies international lenders demand.	
    Greece's fiscal derailment in 2009, when its budget deficit
ballooned to 15.6 percent of national output, sparked its worst
economic crisis since World War Two.	
    The 215 billion euro economy is expected to contract by
about 5 percent this year after a 6.9 percent slump in 2011.
 	
    The think tank said the mood improved most in manufacturing,
and and construction, while sentiment in the retail trade rose
only marginally.	
    With unemployment hitting record levels and wages squeezed
by higher taxes, Greek consumers remain the most pessimistic in
Europe, IOBE said, followed by Portugal, Hungary, Bulgaria,
Romania and Cyprus.	
    Four out of five Greek consumers expect their economic
situation to worsen in the next 12 months, with 77 percent of
households also expecting the economy to fare worse.	
    The modest uptick in Greece's overall economic sentiment in
April compared with a drop in the euro zone's reading in the
same month, to 92.8 points from 94.5 in March.	
    IOBE provided the following data:
 **************************************************************	
                                            YR AVERAGE	
                      APRIL '12  MARCH '12  2011  2010  	
 OVERALL SENTIMENT       77.3     75.7      77.6  79.3  	
 -industrial             81.6     75.7      76.9  75.8  	
 -services               56.1     55.2      61.7  63.6  	
 -retail trade           52.4     51.9      58.9  59.2  	
 -construction           40.8     33.2      34.2  47.4  	
 -consumer confidence   -78.7    -79.3     -74.1 -63.4  	
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