In Brief

Fuel bill propels 8-month C/A deficit Greece’s current account deficit shot up 37 percent to 7.53 billion euros in the January-August period, year on year, largely due to a 29 percent rise in the deficit of the fuels trade balance, Bank of Greece data issued yesterday show. The trade balance in the eight months showed an increase in the deficit from 16.5 billion euros in the same period last year to 17.6 billion, due to the growth of the net oil import bill by 862 million, while the ships’ balance showed a deficit of 310 million euros, compared with a surplus of 526 million in the corresponding period of 2004. The services surplus widened 5.2 percent, reflecting an increase in net transportation and travel receipts. Net transportation (mainly shipping) receipts were higher by 432 million, and gross travel receipts rose by 560 million euros. Duty Free Shops to open new outlets in Athens and Kos Retailer Hellenic Duty Free Shops (HDFS) said yesterday it will open outlets in marinas at two popular tourist spots as part of its expansion plans, with analysts having mixed views on the move. «It is part of our plans. We are interested,» said Thodoris Gitzos, the investors relations officer. He said the company aimed to open outlets in the wider Athens area and on the island of Kos, near the Turkish coast. He did not elaborate. HDFS, which runs duty-free and other retail stores in airports, ports and border stations countrywide, has exclusive rights for the duty-free business in Greece until 2048. Gitzos said the retailer may expand to other Greek marinas in the future and was also considering taking part in a public tender for the use of an Olympic Games venue in southern Athens. (Reuters) Economic climate The Economic Climate Index (ECI) showed a 4.4-point rise in September, based on improved prospects in industry and retail trade. Negative expectations in construction receded slightly, in services the situation remained unchanged, while consumer confidence remained weak. OTE More than 5,500 workers out of 6,700 eligible applied for early retirement as part of a restructuring plan, OTE telecom said yesterday. The take-up rate, at above 82 percent, was higher than OTE’s 70 percent target. Selonda Selonda Aquaculture signed a deal with Saudi firm Gadazco for the latter’s participation in the share capital increase of Selonda UK Ltd, acquiring 50 percent of the Selonda subsidiary. The Wales-based company’s aim is to realize a land unit producing sea bass, with an output of 1000 tons through the method of closed circuit. The investment costs 16 million euros and is subsidized by the EU and the local government of Wales. It will be completed by the end of 2006. ASE CNBC Europe, the continent’s main business TV network, signed an agreement with the Athens Stock Exchange to present data from the Greek market in real time, starting next Monday. ASE President Spyros Kapralos greeted the deal as a «step for the stock market toward becoming more attractive, offering greater investment options to foreign institutionals, too, in a modern and flexible environment.»