The Greek statistical authority has said the country's deep recession has eased slightly.

However, the economy still contracted 6.2% in the second quarter compared to the same time last year. In the first quarter, the contraction was 6.5%.

Debt-crippled Greece has been in recession for five years, and the cumulative shrinkage is expected to reach 20% at the end of this year.

The government has said the recession could exceed 7% in 2012.

Greece is being kept solvent by international bailout loans, granted in return for a harsh austerity programme.