April 21, 2016 / 9:30 AM / 3 years ago

Greece's 2015 primary surplus beats target, but already discounted

A Greek national flag flutters atop the Athens Acropolis hill as tourists take photos during a snowstorm February 10, 2015. REUTERS/ Alkis Konstantinidis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece had a primary surplus last year that beat the target set in its bailout program, according to the European Commission, but euro zone officials said the number was already discounted in talks between Athens and lenders on reforms and debt relief.

A Commission spokeswoman said Athens recorded a primary surplus - which excludes debt servicing costs - of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product in 2015.

“This is in line with the Commission baseline and indeed substantially better than the program’s fiscal target of a primary deficit of 0.25 percent of GDP for 2015,” the spokeswoman added.

The primary balance is a key indicator to assess Greece’s progress in its third international financial rescue.

The Greek government was pinning hopes of avoiding tougher austerity measures sought by the International Monetary Fund and euro zone lenders on achieving a better budget position.

But the Commission announcement on Thursday may change little.

“It is irrelevant, because it had been fully discounted beforehand,” one senior euro zone official said.

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski and Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Paul Taylor and Toby Chopra

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