ECONOMY

In Brief

Jobless lower in Q1,but above EU average Unemployment continued to fall in the first quarter of 2001 but remained far above the European Union average, according to data of the National Statistics Service. The number of jobless was 476,600, or 10.9 percent of the labor force, 1.2 percentage points lower than the same quarter of 2000. Total employment, however, rose just 0.1 percent (2,400 jobs), which leads to the conclusion that the fall in unemployment is due either to a large number of unemployed having given up registering, or to a steep rise in the number of pensioners. In any case, the latest data confirms anew the greater difficulties faced by women in looking for jobs. The unemployment rate among them was 16.3 percent, against 7.2 percent among men. The numbers are almost equally split between those unemployed for less and for more than a year. In terms of geographical distribution, which is strongly affected by seasonal factors due to the tourism industry, the highest rates of unemployment appear in the southern Aegean islands and Central Greece, and the lowest in Crete and the northern Aegean. Turkey shuts down two banks, transfers assets ISTANBUL – Turkey yesterday closed two banks it seized during a financial crisis and transferred some of their unsold assets and liabilities to another seized bank Toprakbank in the latest shakeup of its troubled banking sector. A statement from Toprakbank said Turkey’s Savings and Deposits Insurance Fund (SDIF) had annulled the operating licenses of Kentbank and Etibank as previously planned. Turkey is currently negotiating fresh IMF lending of $10 billion on top of an original $19 billion rescue pact that focuses on dealing with troubled banks and debt accrued as a result of a multi-billion dollar bailout. Turkey said on Thursday it had agreed to sell 70 of Etibank’s 159 branches and 35 of Kentbank’s 81 branches as it works to meet an IMF pledge to sell or close 19 banks it originally seized during its recent financial turmoil. The sales include all deposits, credits, personnel and capital the branches own. Some forex and lira time deposits of the banks were sold in recent auctions the treasury held. (Reuters) Deal doubtful. Two and a half months after the preliminary agreement to sell Hellenic Shipyards, buyer Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft-Ferrostaal (HDW) is still holding out, refusing to pay penalties for delayed delivery of projects already under way. The penalties amount to 100 billion drachmas. Production tapers off. Industrial production rose 2 percent year-on-year in October versus 2.6 percent in September, the National Statistics Service (ESYE) said yesterday. Manufacturing output grew 1.1 percent in October, mainly due to expansion in petrol and chemical products, plastics and basic metals, ESYE said. In the year to October Greece’s industrial output rose 1.33 percent in comparison with the same period a year earlier, with manufacturing showing growth of 2 percent. (Reuters)