ECONOMY

In Brief

Gov’t rules out ceiling on rising gasoline prices As gasoline prices keep climbing, Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Salagoudis yesterday ruled out the imposition of price ceilings, saying they would be ineffective. Despite increasing the number of inspections in gasoline stations and referrals to the Competition Commission last week for harmonized pricing practices, especially of retailers on several big islands where price rises have seemed completely unjustified, the average after-tax price of unleaded gasoline in these districts yesterday broke the one euro/liter barrier. The phenomenon is attributed to the inadequate functioning of competition, as shown by the fact that the pretax price of unleaded gasoline in Greece is 10 percent more expensive than the EU average, 48.7 cents per liter, against 44.3. Alpha Bank expects investment growth in H2 Investment will pick up in the second half, following the enactment of the development incentives law and the startup of public works worth more than 5 billion euros, Alpha Bank forecast in its weekly economic bulletin. Private consumption is also expected to keep rising at rates higher than 3.5 percent during the period. According to the bulletin, with an expected average price of oil of $56 per barrel in 2005, inflation is projected to close at 3.4 percent in December. Piraeus profits Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fifth-largest lender by assets, said yesterday that first-half group net profit rose 51.9 percent to 86.5 million euros on strong consumer and home loan growth. The bank said net interest income in the first six months grew 17.7 percent to 255.8 million euros, with its net interest margin reported at 3.29 percent. «The course of the second quarter confirms our expectation that full-year group profitability will attain new highs. Expansion of activities in Greece and abroad is continuing at a fast pace,» the bank’s chief executive, Michael Sallas, said in a statement. Piraeus said overall lending grew 25.9 percent year-on-year, including foreign subsidiaries, and made up 71.9 percent of total assets. Home loans rose 55.5 percent to 2.759 billion euros, above the banking sector’s 30 percent market expansion rate. (Reuters) Praktiker fined The General Consumer Secretariat fined retailer Praktiker 29,347 euros for failing to inform authorities about the dangers involved in the use of one its electric vacuum cleaner products, it said yesterday. Praktiker recalled the Alaska model VC 1410 vacuum cleaner from the market, but failed to fill in state officials about the problems of using the faulty appliance. Vivodi picks Ericsson Swedish telecoms equipment giant Ericsson said yesterday it had been selected by Greece’s Vivodi Telecom to deliver 10,000 ADSL lines to provide new broadband capabilities to Vivodi subscribers. No financial details were given for the deal. (Reuters)