Greek economy shrinks by 1.1 pct in first quarter

The Greek economy shrank by 1.1 percent in the first quarter of the year on a 12-month basis, Greece's statistics agency said on Thursday.

The data, unadjusted for seasonal factors showed that output by the bailed out economy “decreased by 1.1 percent in comparison with the first quarter of 2013,” the ELSTAT agency said.

Based on the data announced on Thursday, the economy in 2013 shrank by 3.86 percent according to AFP calculations.

This year, the economy is expected to switch into growth of 0.6 percent, showing the first expansion since 2008, according to the Finance Ministry.

The coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is trying to persuade critics at home that four years of grueling austerity under the bailout program are now bearing fruit.

But the Greek central bank has warned that political stability is needed to protect the fragile recovery.

The government faces a tough local elections challenge over the next two weeks, with anti-austerity parties poised to gain heavily from widespread anger over the six-year recession and soaring unemployment gripping the country.

An opinion poll on voting intentions for European Parliament elections published Thursday showed leftist opposition SYRIZA ahead of conservative coalition leaders New Democracy by 3 percent.

The poll, which was conducted by VPRC for Epikaira magazine, showed SYRIZA of Alexis Tsipras taking the lead with 16.7 percent, followed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's conservative party which stood at 13.7 percent. [AFP, Kathimerini]