By George Georgiopoulos

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s economy continued to recover in the third quarter, driven by net exports, but its expansion slowed from the second quarter amid weaker consumer spending and investments.

Seasonally adjusted data released by statistics service ELSTAT on Thursday showed gross domestic product expanded 0.6% in the third quarter compared with an upwardly revised 1.3% growth rate in the second.

On an annual basis, economic growth decelerated to 2.3% in the third quarter from an upwardly revised 2.8% growth rate in the previous quarter.

“Despite the international slowdown, the export sector provided the main support to economic activity, topping initial estimates,” said National Bank economist Nikos Magginas.

Data showed that exports of goods and services, up 4.5% compared with the second quarter, outpaced imports, which rose just 0.6%, producing a positive contribution to domestic economic output.

“Tourism continued to support economic growth, making up for a mild increase in consumer spending and fixed capital investments,” Magginas said.

He said the economy’s performance in the third quarter rendered expectations of growth higher 2.0% for the year “more realistic.”

Greece’s 180 billion-euro economy grew 1.9% last year, driven mainly by net exports. Private consumption also provided a boost.

Greece emerged from a decade of bailouts in August last year and is now relying on financial markets to cover borrowing needs. The government projects growth will pick up to 2.8% next year; the central bank foresees a smaller expansion of 2.4% to 2.5%.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos and Lefteris Papadimas; editing by Larry King)

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