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Business

Greek slump accelerating again

The economic downturn in debt-laden Greece appears to have accelerated again, revised figures by the country's statistics office show, in spite of a record tourism year and massive financial assistance from the EU.

On Friday, Greece's state statistics agency, Elstat, drastically revised downwards the economy's third-quarter contraction to 0.9 percent, from 0.5 percent previously.

"These differences are on account of using new data, not available at the time of the flash estimate," the Elstat agency said, citing a mixture of September balance of payments data, service turnover and jobless figures as factors for the downturn.

In an annual comparison, Greek output had fallen by 1.1 percent from the third quarter of 2014, Elstat said. The flash estimate on November 13 had pointed to a 0.4-percent drop from last year.

The data is consistent with European Commission forecasts that Greece will fall back into recession in 2015 after a brief respite last year. The Commission is banking on a 1.4-percent contraction in 2015 and a further drop of 1.3 percent in 2016.

Greece's own 2016 budget, to be approved by parliament in early December, foresees "near zero" growth in 2015 and a 0.7-percent economic downturn next year.

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Although Greece had a record tourism year, the gains were lost to economic uncertainty as the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras clashed with international creditors in June and imposed capital controls.

In August, however, Greece's international creditors approved a third bailout totaling 86 billion euros ($91 billion) in exchange for far-reaching reform pledges. As a result, Athens received an initial 13 billion euros in aid, but was slow to adopt the legislative changes needed to be granted the next disbursement.

On Monday this week, eurozone finance ministers finally gave the green light to the two-billion-euro tranche, declaring that Athens had successfully met the strict reform commitments demanded in the country's bailout.

uhe/tk (dpa, Reuters)

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