ECONOMY

In Brief

Rate of housing credit growth is slowing down Mortgage loans rose 32.4 percent year-on-year in March from 34.4 percent in February, data published by the Bank of Greece showed. Credit growth as a whole grew 17.2 percent in March from 18.1 percent in February. On the other hand, savings increased by 1 billion euros compared to last year. According to real estate professionals this merely confirms a drop in demand for all types of property in the past few months. CosmOTE to cut charges for prepaid products by up to 18 pct Mobile operator CosmOTE announced yesterday it will reduce charges up to 18 percent for its prepaid products and lower short message rates to further boost usage. «CosmOTE is reducing its off-net charges by 18 percent for both prepaid products, Cosmokarta and «What’s Up?» In addition, CosmOTE is reducing even further its SMS charges for «What’s Up?» usage while keeping the existing scaled pricing based on which «the more text messages you send, the less you pay,» the company said. CosmOTE, Greece’s largest cellphone operator by clients, said the new tariffs were aimed at increasing usage among its prepaid clients. (Reuters) The bourse Hellenic Exchanges, the holding company that owns the Athens stock and futures bourses, announced yesterday it swung to a pretax loss of 8.6 million euros in the first quarter after a 970,000-euro profit a year earlier. Group revenues fell 19.3 percent to 10.6 million euros due to a drop in trading volumes. The company said its core profits (EBITDA) fell 13 percent to 3.23 million euros, while operating costs fell 17 percent. The company, with a current market value of 215 million euros, is slated for further privatization. Its major shareholders include banks, securities firms and institutional investors along with the State. (Reuters) Viohalco Copper and aluminum group Viohalco announced yesterday its first-quarter group pretax profit before minorities fell 42.7 percent to 13.8 million euros, with export activities hurt by a strong euro. Group sales rose 5.6 percent to 378 million euros, the company said. «The fall in group results is due to an adverse global economic situation, in which companies with strong export orientation, such as Elval and Halcor, have had profit margins pressured,» it said. Exports were also hurt by the appreciation of the euro against the dollar. Depreciation costs amounting to 28 million euros also weighed in, it said. Viohalco is a holding company with interests in the production and processing of copper and aluminum products. Subsidiaries include Sidenor, Halcor, Fitco, Elval and Hellenic Cables. Viohalco shares on the Athens bourse closed with gains of 1.03 percent to 3.92 euros yesterday. (Reuters) WPI Greece’s wholesale price inflation slowed to 1.0 percent year-on-year in April from 2.0 percent in March, helped by a sharp drop in fuel prices, National Statistics Service (NSS) data published yesterday showed. Month-on-month, wholesale prices fell 0.5 percent, NSS said. The 12-month average wholesale inflation rate ending in April came to 1.5 percent. (Reuters)