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Greece back in the black for first time since 1948: EU

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(BRUSSELS) - Greece was back in the black for the first time since 1948, the EU's economics commissioner Olli Rehn said on Tuesday as figures showed the economically-hobbled nation returning to growth.

"Greece has for the first time since 1948 reached a current account surplus," Rehn told a news conference on presenting better-than-expected growth forecasts for the European Union for this year and next.

The EU's winter forecasts showed Greece returning to growth of 0.6 percent this year, with a significant leap of 2.9 percent expected for 2015, after a long and damaging recession.

Even joblessness in Greece is set to improve a little, although the unemployment picture remained bleak, with the number of job-seekers falling from 27 percent last year to 26 percent in 2014 and 24 percent in 2015.

That was more than twice as high as the overall unemployment rate forecast for the 18-nation eurozone of 12 percent this year and 11.7 percent this year.

It also stands in sharp contrast with forecasts of 5.2 and 5.1 percent in Germany for this year and next.

Greek debt, which in 2013 peaked at 177.3 percent of GDP -- although the EU ceiling is 60 percent -- was set to ease to 11 percent this year and 171.9 in 2015.

"Greece should return to growth in 2014," the forecasts said. "Confidence indicators continue to improve, whilst hard data releases suggest the first signs of recovery.

"Structural reforms undertaken in labour and product markets have underpinned improved competitiveness leading to expectations for strengthened exports and investment."

Winter forecast - Greece

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