Bank of Greece predicts country's return to growth

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A man rides his bicycle next to a lit Christmas sign reading ''Athens'' as a homeless man sleeps on a metro air vent above an underground station to warm up, at Omonia Square in central Athens, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. Homelessness has increased dramatically during the financial crisis in Greece, which has depended on international rescue loans for more than three years. Drastic spending cuts imposed through six years of recession have led to massive job losses, with the September unemployment rate reaching 27.4 percent. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's central bank has joined the government in predicting that the country's economy will grow in 2014 following a savage six-year recession but cautioned about the impact of a heated political rivalry ahead of elections in May.

In a 128-page report published Tuesday, The Bank of Greece predicted that the economy will grow by 0.5 percent next year, in line with a government forecast.

However, it said a "climate of polarization" among political parties could limit the benefits generated from years of austerity that have seen an improvement in Greece's public finances. In May, there are European Parliament and local government elections.

Syriza, a coalition of left-leaning parties that is now Greece's main opposition, took the lead in an opinion poll Monday for the first time in over a year.