Banks preparing new rates and products after ECB cut Commercial banks are expected to begin a round of interest rate reductions next week, in line with the European Central Bank’s 0.5 percent basic rate cut to 2 percent on Thursday. Deposit rates are expected to move to near zero levels, limiting any benefits from lending rate cuts. Alpha Bank yesterday announced a new guaranteed capital term deposit investment scheme, FTSE/ASE-20 Lock-In, which is linked to the Athens bourse’s respective blue chip index. The scheme has a three-month duration and offers an annualized yield of 4.0 percent if the index moves to a reading equal to or over 110 percent of its initial level at any time in the three months; investors will be able to subscribe to the scheme until June 13. ECSA Alexandros Panagopoulos, chairman and managing director of Superfast Ferries, was unanimously elected chairman of the High Level Ferry Group of the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) at its last meeting in Brussels. «The sector must move in the direction of a single, open, European market. It is necessary to maintain strict safety and environmental protection rules,» said Panagopoulos. Thessaloniki Thessaloniki’s Port Authority plans to attract partners for a 40-hectare, major tourism development scheme in the city’s harbor area, officials said.