In Brief

Business conditions show slight improvement in May Greece’s manufacturing sector showed signs of stabilization in May after April’s deterioration with the PMI index rising to 50.2 from 49.1, a monthly survey by NTC Research showed yesterday. The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), based on a survey of about 300 companies, showed «negligible improvement in overall business conditions,» returning above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction, NTC said. «Total output rose for the 18th consecutive month in May… (but) with domestic demand remaining subdued, the level of total new orders was bolstered by stronger demand from foreign clients… Average purchase prices rose for the 23rd consecutive month, (but) factory gate prices fell, negligibly, for the first time in 23 months in May. Panelists cited increased competition from rival manufacturers, particularly China,» said NTC. «Employment in the sector fell for the ninth successive month, while inventories of finished goods rose for the fourth consecutive month… Purchasing activity by manufacturing firms declined for the first time in six months.» EU sounds warning bell for Greece’s long-term pension liabilities Greece needs to adopt additional measures to control public expenditure on retirement benefits and urgently reform its pension system, the European Commission said in its sixth annual report on the state of member states’ public finances, released in Brussels yesterday. On the basis of demographic trends, the Commission projects that total spending on Greek pensions will rise from 12.3 percent of GDP in 2009 (less than five other countries) to 22.6 percent in 2050, more than any other EU partner. Greece, Spain, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Malta are found to have the highest rates of increase in retirement benefits and meager progress in reforming their pension systems. Public borrowing Greece plans to borrow about 5.5 billion euros in the third quarter of 2005 through issues of treasury bills and government bonds, the head of the country’s Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) said yesterday. Greece’s total borrowing this year is projected at about 33-35 billion euros. Greece is targeting a public debt-to-GDP ratio of 108 percent this year, down from 110.5 percent in 2004. (Reuters) Business ethics The Greek Institute for Business Ethics was launched in Athens yesterday, as part of the European Business Ethics Network (EBEN GR). «EBEN GR has come to contribute to the creation of conditions that will help enterprises develop those practices according to which they will be able to cultivate a climate of understanding, trust and support for their social partners,» said the organization’s chairman, Antonis Gortzis. Hellenic Petroleum Workers at Hellenic Petroleum will stage a 10-day strike starting on June 10 after wage negotiations with management broke down, their union said yesterday. Management said the union demands were excessive. «The union has submitted total demands which, together with increases in 2005, represent 25 percent of wage costs compared with 2004,» the refiner said in a stock market filing. It added said it would take all legal measures to ensure the company’s smooth operation and meet consumers’ fuel needs. (Reuters)

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