ECONOMY

In Brief

C/A deficit shrinks in Jan.-Feb., mainly due to a surge in services surplus Greece’s current account deficit narrowed by 47.5 percent in January-February 2004, year-on-year, falling to 1.19 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. The trade deficit fell slightly to 3.79 billion euros, reflecting a 189-million-euro decrease in the net oil import bill, which was partly offset by a 136-million-euro increase in the non-oil trade deficit. The services surplus grew by 63.3 percent to 1.07 billion euros, mainly due to a marked rise in net transport receipts. The income account deficit fell by 159 million euros as a result of a decrease in net interest, dividend and profit payments. The transfers surplus grew by 455 million euros due to an increase in net EU transfers to the general government, which reached 1.6 billion only in February. A net inflow of 356 million euros was recorded in direct investment. Over the same period, a substantial net inflow of 2.55 billion euros was recorded under portfolio investment, but a net outflow of 2.82 billion in the «other investment» account, mainly connected with continued sizable outflows to deposits and repos abroad. At the end of February, Greece’s reserve assets stood at 3.7 billion euros. British Council opens tertiary education and careers fair More than 20 prominent Greek and British companies are participating in the British Council’s first Careers Fair in Greece, which is being held at Thessaloniki’s Makedonia Palace Hotel today and at the Athens Hilton on Saturday and Sunday. The fair is addressed to Greek graduates of British universities, who can access jobs and meet prospective employers. The participating companies are Allied Domecq, BHCC, Carlson Wagonlit Travel Group, Deloitte, Diageo, Eurobank, Grecotel Group, Icon training and Consultancy, Intracom, Ison Psychometric Testing, Karaindros Marine Insurance, Kellog Brown & Root, M Data, Makedonia News Group, Marks & Spencer, Pfizer, Richard’s Butler International Law Firm, Shell, Titan Cement, Trade Partners UK, Unilever and Vodafone. The fair is part of the annual Education UK Fairs event, where representatives from over 75 British tertiary education establishments will be available to provide information about undergraduate, postgraduate and research courses. For more details, contact Maria Kourtoglou, tel 210.369.2390/2333, fax 210.363.4769. Mortgages Laiki Bank offers a minimum 2.85 percent mortgage rate fixed for the first year and varying thereafter according to the European Central Bank’s basic intervention rate. The offer is available until May 31. OA Olympic Airlines said it carried 439,400 passengers in March, which represented a 15 percent rise after a long period of recession. The improvement is continuing at a faster pace so far this month. Exports The Exporters’ Association of Northern Greece (SEVE) announced the introduction of a quarterly Barometer of Export Trends and Expectations – reflecting exporters’ performance in the last quarter and forecasts for the next.