Greece Beats Budget Target for 3rd Year

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece has beaten its bailout budget targets for a third successive year and eased its massive debt burden by a fraction as the country prepares to exit its international rescue program in four months.

The country's independent statistics agency on Monday reported long-awaited data for 2017 that will affect ongoing negotiations between Athens and creditors on the terms of Greece's exit.

The agency reported that the 2017 primary budget surplus — the balance before debt repayment is included— stood at 4 percent, while the national debt stood at 178.6 percent of gross domestic product, down from 180.8 the previous year.

Economic output was 177.7 billion euros ($218 billion), confirming a return to growth, but still almost a billion euros lower that annual output in 2014.