ECONOMY

In Brief

Inflation held back slightly in October; year average at 2.9 pct Greece’s inflation rate receded slightly to 3.1 percent in November, from 3.2 percent in October, thanks mainly to a small decline in fresh fruit and vegetable prices which partially offset higher heating oil costs, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. The EU-harmonized index also showed a decline from 3.3 percent in October to 3.2 percent, while core inflation – which excludes the volatile categories of fuels, fruit and vegetables – remained stable at 3.6 percent. Compared to November 2003, the steepest rise was in heating oil prices, 28.6 percent, followed by olive oil with 14.6 percent; gasoline with 10.6 percent and bread with 9.1 percent. By contrast the prices of potatoes fell 40.4 percent, of other vegetables 20.2 percent and of telecom services 6.1 percent. The NSS said the 2004 inflation rate is projected at 2.9 percent. Eurobank revises Greek economy growth estimates for next year The analysis department of Eurobank has revised its estimate on the Greek economy’s growth rate: For 2005, it now sees a 3.3 percent growth from 3.6 percent in its previous assessment, with growth to go down to 3.1 percent in 2006, from 3.5 percent previously. The downward revision is due to high oil prices and the more limited fiscal policy for deficits to fall under the 3 percent threshold. Slower growth will coincide with shrinking in Olympics-related sectors, such as infrastructure investments, a tighter fiscal policy replacing a relaxed one, etc. Inflationary pressure may increase with core inflation remaining high. Next year’s budget is considered applicable but some hyper-optimistic assessments (3.9 percent growth rate) and only moderate cuts in expenditures may allow deficit- and debt-related figures to miss their target. S&N buys Mythos British brewers Scottish & Newcastle is set to announce the purchase of Northern Greek Brewery (NGB), producers of the Mythos brand and subsidiary of listed winemakers Boutari, online business agency euro2day reported yesterday. The British company has agreed to buy almost all of NGB shares, making it independent from the Boutari group. In August 2002, Scottish & Newcastle bought 46 percent of NGB for 16 million pounds (23 million euros). The same source said the British company may also buy a stake in Boutari. Red tape cut Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos has relieved hoteliers and other tourism entrepreneurs from a mass of bureaucratic procedures ordering that the certificates required for issuing or renewing a special operating licence be reduced from 23 to just five. The measure will come into effect next year. Klonatex The National Bank of Greece announced yesterday that the issuing of a 20-million-euro loan to listed textile company Naoussa Spinning Mills (Klonatex) has been arranged. Apart from NBG, which is also the loan manager, Emporiki, Agrotiki, Alpha Bank and Eurobank are participating in the loan to the troubled company.