In Brief

PMI declines in November; record fall in employment Greece’s manufacturing sector contracted in November, as a wave of strikes hit business activity, a monthly survey by NTC Research of around 300 companies showed yesterday. The Greek Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 48.6 from 50.2 in October, contrasting with an improvement in the index for the whole of the 12-nation euro area, which rose to 52.2 from 51.3 in October. A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing, below 50 a contraction. For the whole of the euro area, the Reuters Purchasing Managers’ Index reached its highest level since February 2001. Staffing levels were reduced in November for the sixth month in a row, with the fall in employment the steepest recorded in the survey’s history due to lower production needs, NTC Research said, commenting on the Greek survey. It also pointed to the fifth successive month of input price inflation while output price inflation was recorded for the fourth month in a row. (Reuters) OTE renews share buyback scheme for one year Shareholders of OTE telecoms have approved the renewal of a share buyback plan which expired in mid-October. The period during which OTE can repurchase up to 30 million shares at a price range of 5 to 15 euros starts today and will last for 12 months, OTE management said. Management will also propose to OTE’s board of directors the cancelation of 3 million shares, after an extension by the Capital Market Commission for holding onto the shares expired. The company bought back about 433,000 of its shares at an average price of 9.25 euros between December 9 last year and October 16, lifting its treasury stock to 13.9 million shares, corresponding to around 2.8 percent of its share capital. Regarding Norwegian operator Telenor’s stake in OTE’s mobile arm CosmOTE, Chief Executive Lefteris Antonakopoulos said the story was not over despite Telenor having rejected a previous OTE offer for the stake as too low. «We have ensured that Telenor will talk to us first when it sells its CosmOTE stake. The purchase will be at the right time and at the right price,» he said. (Reuters) Greek deposits Contrary to the prevailing perception of Greece as a cash economy, due to a large gray sector and relatively high tax evasion, the share of core deposits (overnight, savings and deposits redeemable in three months) to gross domestic product (GDP) is very close to the eurozone average (50.3 percent, against 53.5 percent), the National Bank of Greece (NBG) said in its latest bulletin for foreign investors. Also, the average growth rate of core deposits is almost equal to nominal GDP growth in the last 10 years, as in the eurozone. The growth of all deposits, however, has slowed down significantly in the last year and a half, in contrast to the eurozone, but deposits still represent a higher percentage of GDP in Greece (80 percent against 70 percent); their growth is now expected to rebound, exceeding the country’s economic growth rate by the end of 2004.