Greece sees return to growth in the third quarter

By Reuters

Sep 06, 2014 06:50 AM EDT

Greece expects its economy to grow in the third quarter, its first quarterly expansion since the start in 2008 of a crippling recession that has wiped out nearly a quarter of GDP, its finance minister said on Saturday.

The comments by Gikas Hardouvelis are the first confirmation that the government expects a return to growth in the July-September period, as forecast by analysts.

Athens and its EU/IMF lenders are projecting overall growth of 0.6 percent in 2014 thanks to a surge in tourism and signs of a rebound in investment.

"We hope that we will see the first period of slim but positive growth in the third quarter," Hardouvelis told businessmen in northern Greece, according to a statement from his office on Saturday.

Hardouvelis cited better-than-expected tourism revenues, a stabilization of consumer spending and investment falling at a slower pace as positive signs being seen in theeconomy.

"So there is hope that the course can reverse now with the economy stabilizing," the financeminister said.

Greece's economy shrank 0.3 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, contracting at its slowest pace since late 2008 on the back of a strong tourist season. [ID:L5N0R21RE]

Bailed out twice since 2010, Greece is reliant on aid from the EU and IMF to keep afloat. But its fortunes have risen sharply this year as the threat of bankruptcy recedes and its finances get back on track.

The six-year recession has wiped out a quarter of the nation's output and driven unemployment to a record high of more than 27 percent.

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