Economy drops gear in Q4

Greek economic growth decelerated more than economists had expected in the last three months of 2007 but continued to outperform the broader eurozone, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Based on flash NSS estimates, GDP grew at an annual 3.6 percent pace in the fourth quarter, slowing from 3.8 percent in the previous three-month period, the slowest performance since at least 2004. Greece’s -230 billion economy, about 2.5 percent of the eurozone, has been growing faster than its euro partners since the costly 2004 Olympics. Gross domestic product (GDP) in the 13 countries then sharing the euro grew by 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in October to December against 0.8 percent in the third quarter. Similarly, Greek growth slowed to 0.7 from 0.9 percent. «The GDP reading was slightly below market expectations of 3.8 percent growth year-on-year,» said EFG Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos. «Yet, the full-year growth rate came to 4 percent – slightly higher than an official forecast of 3.9 percent.» NSS said there was a 4.1 percent drop in investments in the last quarter, reflecting weaker construction activity. This was mitigated by stronger exports, which grew 10.4 percent. (Reuters)