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Greek prices lose 0.2% in March, first since 1968


Greek consumer prices fell in March for the first time since 1968, declining by 0.2 percent on an annualised basis owing in large part to lower costs for telecommunications, according to official data released on Tuesday.

"It is the first time since May 1968 that the consumer price index is negative," Michail Glenis, head of the inflation department of the state statistics service, told AFP.

Forty-five years ago, Greece was in the second year of a military dictatorship when the consumer price index marked a 0.3 percent drop before rising again that June by 0.5 percent on a 12-month comparison, he added.

In February 2013, prices had increased by 0.1 percent compared with the same month a year earlier.

On a monthly comparison, prices rose by 2.5 percent in March, picking up from an increase of 1.5 percent in February.

The most striking annualised falls in March were recorded in the communications sector, where prices fell on average by 5.1 percent, and in the health sector, where they were down by 4.6 percent.

The heavily-indebted eurozone country, which currently depends international rescue loans to avoid bankruptcy, is in its sixth consecutive year of recession.

The government's latest budget forecasts that the economy will contract again by 4.5 percent this year, while inflation is expected to average 0.8 percent.