ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek factory activity grew at a faster pace in May, with sharp increases in new orders and production leading companies to hire more workers, a survey showed on Friday.
Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing, which accounts for about 10 percent of the Greek economy, rose to 54.2 from 52.9 in April. Readings above 50 denote expansions in activity; below 50, a contraction.
“May saw the recovery in the Greek manufacturing sector reach an important milestone, with output now having risen on a monthly basis throughout a year,” said Andrew Harker, IHS Markit associate director.
Driving the expansion in output was a rise in new orders at home and from abroad. Growth in export business hit a three-month high in May.
“Encouragingly, rates of growth in production, new orders and employment all picked up from the previous month. The road to recovery remains long, however, after a number of years of decline,” Harker said.
Greece’s debt crisis in late 2009 led to a long recession and multiple bailouts, which Athens hopes to exit in August, when its current, third rescue program expires.
The country’s jobless rate, at 20.8 percent in February, remains the highest in the euro zone.
Greek manufacturers continued to take on new workers in May, responding to higher output requirements, with the pace of job creation just below a record high hit in March.
Inflationary pressures intensified in May, the survey showed, as both input costs and output prices rose at sharper rates compared to April. Firms reported higher costs for raw materials such as metals and oil.
Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, editing by Larry King