Greece's economy shrank 3.8 percent in the second quarter, the smallest annual decline in nearly three years and helped by a rebound in tourism, adding to signs the long economic slump may be bottoming out.
In another encouraging sign, exports rose for the first time in five quarters, although the increase was slight, but imports fell sharply, partly reflecting still very weak domestic demand.
The second-quarter data, released by the statistics service ELSTAT on Friday, marked the smallest decline in GDP since the third quarter of 2010 and was better than an initial estimate in August of a 4.6 percent contraction. It followed a 5.6 percent slump in the first quarter, bringing the annual contraction in the first half to 4.7 percent.
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"It was a big positive surprise," said National Bank (NBG)economist Nikos Magginas. He said it was the smallest quarter-on-quarter decline in GDP since end-2009 when the country's debt crisis broke out, forcing Athens to seek a foreign bailout.