Investment helps Greek economy grow for fourth straight quarter


Greece's economy grew for a fourth straight quarter in October-December, driven by stronger investment spending, but the pace was slower than in the previous quarter, the statistics service ELSTAT said on Monday.
Seasonally adjusted data showed gross domestic product rose 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, the expansion decelerating from an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in July-September.
The economy's gradual recovery from a recession that shrank GDP by 25 percent is boosting hopes that Greece will emerge successfully from years of bailouts in August, when its current aid program ends.   
In year-on-year terms, growth actually accelerated to 1.9 percent in the final quarter of last year from an upwardly revised 1.4 percent in the third quarter.
Based on a first estimate of seasonally unadjusted data, full-year GDP growth last year came to 1.4 percent, ELSTAT said.
"The full-year performance was slightly weaker than official forecasts of 1.6 percent," said National Bank economist Nikos Magginas.
It was also below the European Commission's autumn projection, also of 1.6 percent and a similar forecast by the Bank of Greece.

Magginas said the main driver was investment spending as support from strong tourism faded, as usually happens, in the last quarter of the year. Gross capital formation jumped 27.8 percent from the third quarter.

The data showed a negative GDP contribution from net exports in the final quarter along with a 0.4 percent fall in private consumption. Imports grew 1.7 percent compared with a 2.3 percent decrease in exports quarter-on-quarter.
"Evidently, part of the increased capital spending had a high import content, largely explaining the acceleration in import growth," Magginas said. "Consumer spending was weakerthan expected, showing that the financial condition of households is still fragile."