ECONOMY

In Brief

2003 inflation rate ends at 3.5 pct after declining in last quarter Greece’s price index ended 3.5 percent higher last year, according to the National Statistics Service (ESYE). The government had forecast a 3 percent inflation rate but the Bank of Greece was right on target. The year-on-year rate appeared to be declining in the last quarter, ending at 3.1 percent in December – against 3.6 percent a year earlier – in line with most EU countries. ESYE said due to a strike in the fall, the figures for October and November (3.2 and 3.3 percent respectively) were derived from only 60 percent of the total sample. Olympic private accommodation program is increasing pace Philoxenia 2004, the official Olympic rental accommodation program for foreign visitors during the Games, has signed about 150 contracts so far and is targeting about 3,000. Managing Director Constantinos Pallis said demand is especially strong for small apartments. Owners’ applications are still being accepted. Balkan banks Bank associations of Balkan countries and Cyprus yesterday signed a cooperation pact and a charter for a Balkan bank forum, to meet twice a year. The Hellenic Bank Association (EET), which initiated the idea, will hold the permanent secretariat of the forum. EET General Secretary Christos Gortsos said the new body aims at providing support for adjustment to European standards, creating a data bank and promoting cooperation in training. Greek portal in German The Development Ministry yesterday presented the German-language «Greece Portal Olympic Year 2004» (www.griechenland.web.de), which aims at promoting Greek products and services in Germany and includes an extensive guide to the country, services and events – including the Olympic Games – in over 3,000 pages. Vodafone-Panafon The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) yesterday decided to place the stock of mobile phone operator Vodadone-Panafon in «B» category of «low liquidity,» following the company’s statement that it now holds 98.228 percent of its shares after a public offer. As of today, Vodafone-Panafon is replaced by Strintzis Lines on the ASE general index, by Lan-Net on the telecommunications index, by Hyatt Regency on the blue chip FTSE/ASE-20 index and by Alco on the FTSE/ASE-140 index. The parent Vodafone company plans to delist the stock from the ASE. Citibank Citibank has cut the rate for 12-month personal loans from 9.5 to 7.5 percent until the end of February. It also presented a series of Visa credit cards in partnership with soccer champions Olympiakos with several benefits for fans. Piraeus in NY Piraeus Bank’s New York subsidiary Marathon Banking Corporation has absorbed Intertrust, another member of the group. The new entity has assets totaling $600 million and 11 branches in New York, and mainly targets retail banking and mortgage credit operations.