Feb. 1 - Unemployment remains at a euro-era high of 11.7 percent in December, slightly lower than the 11.9 percent level expected by economists. Ciara Sutton reports.
Ferries remain docked and buses stand empty in a second day of Greek transport strikes. The country now has the highest levels of unemployment in Europe, with one in four out of work. Fresh jobless data for the euro zone as a whole was better than forecast, but it remained at a record high of over 11 percent at the end of last year. Jan Randolph is from IHS Global Insight. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JAN RANDOLPH, SAYING: "The recessions in southern Europe are easing. Unemployment did come out not any worse but still at record high levels. If we can call that an improvement, it's called from a very low base. What we are going to see I think is again the pattern in Europe where Germany the largest economy with gravitational influence with the countries around it, is likely to see some recovery in the first half of this year." Euro zone inflation data also gave cheer to the markets. It fell more than expected in January in a sign that companies have been cutting prices to entice shoppers. Inflation is now near the ECB's target of close to 2 percent. An improvement in euro zone business morale for the third straight month last month and better factory output suggest the bloc has passed the worst of its recession. That couldn't be further from the reality of these striking workers. Greece is in its sixth successive year of recession, and unions have called for a general strike later in the month in what seems like a constant cycle of walk-outs.