ECONOMY

In Brief

Greece lags in rebound of economic confidence in eurozone Economic confidence in the eurozone edged up in April from the previous month, European Commission surveys of both businesses and consumers have shown. The economic sentiment indicator for the 12 countries in the eurozone rose to 97.9 points in April from 97.8 in March, which was the lowest since September 2001. For the 15-member EU, the indicator rose to 98.2 from 98.0 in March. However, there was wide variation in sentiment among eurozone members, between a 0.6-point rise in Ireland and a 0.5-point fall in Greece. In other Commission surveys, industrial confidence also showed a mixed picture, with a six-point rise in Ireland and five-point drop in Greece, Portugal, Sweden and Luxembourg. Expectations among producers were down five points in Greece and actual orders fell 10 points. Greek consumers, however, appeared upbeat with a two-point improvement. Greece’s buoyant construction sector showed a small improvement in sentiment, in common with several other countries. Commission clears the way for Thessaloniki metro project The European Commission on Wednesday effectively gave the green light to the Thessaloniki metro project after ruling against a complaint that the relevant contract had been improperly awarded to the consortium led by France’s Bouygues in 1999. «There is no indication that the contract violates Community legislation about public contracts,» it said. However, the project is not expected to start any time soon, as the finalization of the joint financing and concession agreement, with the participation of European Investment Bank, is still pending. The rival consortium Makedoniko Metro, led by construction company Michaniki, had objected that the award was in effect a public project contract rather than a concession agreement and that it violated the principle of equal treatment of competitors. The project is estimated to cost 700 million euros. Compound interest A Piraeus court has ruled that banks can no longer unilaterally determine the amounts owed by borrowers in arrears but will require court decisions to that effect or the borrower’s consent. The ruling is the latest twist to long controversy over compound interest payments on which governments have repeatedly legislated, and effectively halts confiscations and auctions of borrowers’ real estate put up as collateral security. Telestet STET Hellas, operator of Greece’s third largest mobile telephony firm, Telestet, said net first-quarter profit rose 71.9 percent to 19.7 million euros year-on-year, mainly due to a rise in revenues from fixed charges for new contract customers. Revenue was up 26.9 percent to 183.6 million euros on an annual basis. MSCI Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) said it will strike off its MSCI Greece index the shares of Athens Water & Sewerage Company (EYDAP), strapping materials firm Maillis and holding company Attica Enterprises, and of National Bank from the MSCI Euro and Paneuro indices, effective June 1. Analysts said the changes are partly due to the failure by the companies concerned to fully adjust to new criteria regarding free floats.