ECONOMY

In Brief

Consumer and home loans keep driving credit expansion Total Greek credit expansion accelerated to 10.1 percent year on year in September from a revised 9.5 percent pace in August, provisional data from the country’s central bank showed yesterday. Consumer and home loans, which have been feeding robust bank earnings growth, were still advancing at a strong pace, driving the rise, the Bank of Greece data showed. Growth in total household credit – mortgages, credit cards, and consumer loans – picked up to 25.5 from 24.7 percent in August. The data showed Greek household debt was 60.2 billion euros, or about 33.4 percent of annual economic output (GDP). Mortgage lending, one of the main drivers of bank profitability, accelerated to 26.6 percent from a 25.1 percent annual pace in August. The data showed Greek households owed a total of 39 billion euros in mortgages. «The trend is likely to continue up to December on the back of strong consumer spending and a recovery in housing construction activity,» said EFG Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos. (Reuters) Greek exports see increase in first nine months Greek exports rose by 12.3 percent in the first nine months of 2005, year on year, reaching 10.0224 billion euros, according to National Statistics Service data. Out of the 1.0974-billion-euro rise, 316.4 million euros was accounted for by petroleum product exports, 294.6 million euros by chemical products, 390.2 million euros by food and beverages and 113.1 million euros by ship sales. The value of industrial exports declined by 97.9 million euros. The External Trade Board (HEPO) announced that exports to EU states rose by 15.2 percent against 4.9 percent in 2004, with Germany and Italy being Greece’s best markets. Exports also rose to Turkey, Spain, Cyprus, US, Denmark, China and Canada, by between 16 and 33 percent annually. Interamerican probe The Development Ministry appointed a committee of experts to perform an actuarial audit on Interamerican – Greece’s biggest insurer – as requested by a state prosecutor. The audit will stretch from 1990 to 2004 and include insurance portfolio liabilities and the way they were covered, both by Interamerican and its associate companies. It will also examine the company’s real estate valuations between 1993 and 1996. The committee, which will be assisted by auditing firms Grant Thornton and Ernest & Young, will report by end-February 2006. ECI up Greece’s Economic Climate Index (ECI) improved for the fourth straight month in October, slightly up from 88.6 points in September to 88.8. The improvement was especially marked in the services and construction sectors, while there was no essential change in industry and retail commerce. Consumer confidence was slightly dented.