ECONOMY

In Brief

Harmonized inflation steady at 3.1 percent in January Greece’s EU-harmonized inflation remained flat at 3.1 percent year-on-year in January with telecoms tariff cuts offsetting higher tobacco and alcohol prices, the National Statistics Service (NSS) announced yesterday. The rate, used by the European Union in its calculations of the overall eurozone inflation, was more than one point above the 2 percent estimated by Eurostat for the region in January. The average 12-month rate rose 3.4 percent. The NSS reported last week that the headline national inflation eased to 2.9 percent year-on-year in January, its lowest level in more than two years. The government is targeting average inflation of 3.0 percent this year, down from 3.5 percent in 2003. (Reuters) Price of 5-billion-euro bond expected tomorrow The Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) announced yesterday that it aims to price the new 5-billion-euro five-year Treasury note by tomorrow at 12-14 basis points above April 2009 German Bobl notes. «The issue is already covered once, the procedure is going on, we are optimistic that we will finish and have the pricing at the latest by Thursday,» PDMA head Christophoros Sardelis told Reuters. A banker close to the deal said demand had been strong even ahead of the release of official price talk, with orders exceeding 1 billion euros yesterday morning. He said the spread on offer equated to a range of just below LIBOR to two basis points below LIBOR. CSFB, EFG Eurobank, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Piraeus Bank are joint leads for the issue. Sardelis said the five-year auction would be the last issue before a March 7 general election and that Greece was on track to meet its first-quarter borrowing target of 14-15 billion euros, out of a total of about 30 billion for the whole of 2004. (Reuters) Back in black Insurance company Interamerican returned to profitability in 2003, posting a net profit of 57 million euros, the company’s chairman, Dimitris Kontominas, announced yesterday. This was achieved despite a significant decline in revenues from life insurance contracts. Kontominas said company owner Eureko, a Dutch holding company, provided significant support, responding to rumors of a possible split. Jobs for Games Unemployed university, technical college and high school graduates can begin applying today for one of 1,600 positions in Athens 2004, the Olympics organizing committee. The «Stage» program will employ a total of 6,185 people in activities related to the Olympic Games, to be held August 13-29, and the Paralympic Games (September 17-28). Of the 1,600 jobs in question, 300 will be for three months (July-September), 1,000 for July and August and 300 for August and September. Applicants must know how to use computers, speak English and have a driver’s license. The deadline is March 1. The state Human Resources Organization will pay university and technical college graduates 25 euros per day and the others, 21 euros per day.