Manufacturing growth slows in March but export orders are up Greek manufacturing growth decelerated in March from the previous month, coming in marginally above the 50 point mark that separates expansion from contraction, a monthly survey of 300 companies showed yesterday. The Purchasing Managers Index declined to 50.1 from 51.3 in February. «The survey recorded a fall in new orders, albeit only marginal, with firms highlighting softer underlying domestic demand… Export orders, in contrast, were up for the second consecutive month,» said NTC Research, which compiles the index. «Input price inflation eased to the lowest in the current 21-month period of rising costs, with firms reporting only moderate cost increases… Where input prices were said to have risen, higher raw material costs were cited, particularly oil and metals… Higher production, combined with weaker sales, contributed to a rise in inventories of finished goods.» (Reuters) Alternative telecoms firms lose case against OTE The Athens court of first instance yesterday acquitted state telecom OTE of violating the National Telecoms and Posts Commission (EETT) regulations, rejecting accusations by alternative service providers Tellas, Teledome and Forthnet of unfair methods of attracting customers. The three firms had claimed OTE violated the EETT Provider Selection Regulation as amended, causing them irreparable damage. OTE countered that the amendment was against its interests, offering its rivals an unfair advantage in allowing customers to switch providers by referring only to their new one, while this does not apply for OTE. Fuel price rises The hike in VAT from 18 to 19 percent will put up fuel prices by about half a cent per liter, gasoline station owners’ representatives said. This, along with the rise in oil prices globally, has pushed petrol prices up by 2 cents per liter, according to data. Gasoline retailers, however, do not rule out profiteering phenomena, although the Development Ministry has warned that penalties will be heavy in such cases. Prices yesterday recorded a 3 cent rise per liter, to an average of 86 cents per liter of unleaded petrol. Heating oil remains at 48-50 cents per liter. ZTE Corporation The Greek subsidiary of Chinese telecom equipment firm ZTE Corporation intends to make a dynamic entry into the domestic market and expansion into the Balkans. «Greece is very important for ZTE’s plans… we believe there is great demand for broadband products and third- and next-generation networks, and that we can provide the most advanced products and services of the most impressive potential,» Vice President Zhou Fuqiu told a press conference this week. Contemporary Art Museum Environment and Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias yesterday gave his approval for the environmental studies regarding the Fix building on Syngrou Avenue, which is to house the National Contemporary Art Museum; the railway stations in Alexandroupolis and the ports of Igoumenitsa and Kyparissia. GDP concentration The Attica region accounts for 37.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the 2001-2003 regional accounts of the National Statistics Service. Central Macedonia was in second place with 17.6 percent.