ECB’s Asmussen says Greek program is working

European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said on Thursday that Greece was making progress with its reform program ahead of an inspection by international lenders.

Speaking after a meeting with the left opposition leader Alexis Tsipras at the ECB’s headquarters in Frankfurt, Asmussen said the latest economic data was encouraging.

Greece’s Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said earlier citing government estimates that the country’s battered economy expanded from April to June on a quarterly basis for the first time since its crisis erupted four years ago.

Data also showed that Greece’s jobless rate dropped slightly to 27.1 percent in the second quarter, marking the first fall in quarterly unemployment in almost four years.

“The growth data, the employment data from this morning, they are positive and encouraging,” Asmussen told journalists after the meeting.

“In our view the program is working, we see progress,” he said.

The trio of European Union, International Monetary Fund and ECB lenders begin an inspection on Sunday to assess compliance with reforms and how much further financing Athens will need before it regains market access.

Tsipras said after the meeting that the country’s 320-billion-euro debt load was still unsustainable. [Reuters]

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