ECONOMY

Flurry of positive data put Greece on recovery track

A surge of encouraging figures and statistics on Wednesday and Thursday has pointed to the country’s return to growth, vindicating the government’s forecast that Greece’s gross domestic product would expand by 0.5-0.6 percent in 2014.

The unemployment rate continued to edge lower in July, as the Hellenic Statistical Authority’s (ELSTAT) seasonally adjusted data released yesterday point to a 0.9 percent drop in the number of unemployed and a 1 percent rise in the number of working people. This took the jobless rate to 26.4 percent in July against 26.7 percent in June and 27.6 percent in July 2013. There was a significant reduction in the unemployment rate for young people aged between 15 and 24, which dropped from 58.2 percent in July 2013 to 50.7 percent this year.

New vehicle permits in September showed a 44.3 percent increase from the same month in 2013, with 45 percent concerning corporate cars. That was the 12th straight month of growth, the ELSTAT figures showed. Also in September arrivals at the country’s main airport jumped 9 percent year-on-year to reach 2.1 million, bringing the new target of 22 million visitors (including cruise passengers) ever closer, according to data from the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).

Retail prices kept dropping in September for the 19th month in a row, at a 0.8 percent annual rate, although on a monthly basis the ELSTAT price index rose 2.1 percent. The property price slide has eased, amounting to 7.3 percent annually in the second quarter, from 8.5 percent in the first, Bank of Greece figures showed. Retail turnover began to recover in July after years of decline, rebounding 1.5 percent in July, while sales volume rose 4.8 percent, ELSTAT said.

Finance Ministry officials say that the main threats to the country’s goal of economic growth are to be found in the international environment (mainly geopolitical developments in Europe) and political uncertainty at home.