Greek economy expands in second quarter, net exports help

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s economy expanded for a second straight quarter between April and June, its statistics service said on Friday, driven by gains in exports and higher government spending.

FILE PHOTO: People are silhouetted under a fluttering Greek national flag atop the archaeological site of the Athens Acropolis, Greece, March 20, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

The seasonally adjusted data showed gross domestic product expanded 0.5 percent in the second quarter from the first, at the same pace as in the previous three months, for which growth was upwardly revised.

Annual growth accelerated to 0.8 percent from 0.4 percent growth.

The economy’s gradual recovery after a deep recession that shrank it by a quarter and drove unemployment to record highs is boosting hopes that Greece will be able to emerge successfully from years of bailouts.

“The reading was in line with our forecasts. Growth was based on an increase in net exports and a continuing strengthening of consumption,” said National Bank economist Nikos Magginas.

Taking into account other data including the PMI manufacturing index that climbed to a nine-year peak in August, he said the government’s 1.8 percent growth forecast for this year looks attainable.

“We expect strong tourism and a boost in investment activity in the second half,” Magginas said.

The government, which faces a third review to its international bailout this autumn, had cut its projection from 2.7 percent in May.

The EU Commission has cut its forecast to 2.1 percent from 2.7 percent.

Economic recovery will be key to bringing down a jobless rate of nearly 22 percent, the highest in the euro zone, and attaining a primary budget surplus of 1.75 percent - excluding debt servicing outlays - demanded by Greece’s creditors.

The main driver behind the rise in second-quarter economic output was a 3.8 percent rise in exports. This was coupled with a 3.7 percent drop in imports.

Overall consumption grew 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter, boosted by government spending, the data showed.

“Private consumption continues to exhibit relative resilience while concerns emanate from the inability of investment to stage a visible recovery,” said Eurobank chief economist Platon Monokroussos.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, Angeliki Kotantou and Lefteris Papadimas; editing by John Stonestreet