In Brief

Almunia satisfied with Greek budget implementation European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in Brussels yesterday that Greece has done all that the Commission asked it to do in 2005, regarding both the 2005 budget and its implementation during the year. For next year, Almunia said he hopes the assessment of the 2006 budget by the Commission and the finance ministers in January or February will also be positive. As for the planned temporary measures to cut the deficit to 2.6 percent of GDP, such as securitization, Almunia explained they will be assessed by Eurostat. Dropping fuel prices drive inflation down Greek consumer inflation eased to 3.5 percent year on year in November, slowing more than economists expected, but remained above a year-low of 2.9 percent in March, National Statistics Service (NSS) data showed yesterday. EU-harmonized inflation remained a full percentage point above the eurozone’s rate, estimated at 2.4 percent in November. «The main reason for the November inflation slowdown was due to falling fuel prices,» NSS Secretary-General Manolis Kontopyrakis told reporters, adding that the consumer price index in December is expected to pick up to 3.7 percent if fuel prices remain stable. The economy is expected to have grown by an annual 3.7 3.8 percent pace in the third quarter of 2005, Kontopyrakis said. (Reuters) Slowdown continues Car sales continued their decline in November compared with the same month last year, but notched up by 2 percent from October, according to the Association of Motor Vehicle Importers-Representatives (SEAA). Data show sales of new cars reached 19,145 units last month, down by 12.3 percent from 22,003 units in November 2004. Volkswagen led sales last month with an 8.6 percent market share, followed by Toyota and Ford. Turkish rates The Turkish central bank is expected to cut its key interest rates for the ninth time in 2005 later this week, lowering overnight rates by 25 basis points. It last lowered interest rates on Nov. 9, cutting the borrowing rate to 13.75 percent from 14 percent and lowering the lending rate to 17.75 percent from 18 percent. (Reuters) Tourism earnings Cyprus’s earnings from tourism rose 2.4 percent in the first 10 months of the year, up from the 2.2 percent growth through September. Revenues from tourism rose to 932.2 million pounds (1.65 billion euros) in January-October from 910.4 million in the same period of 2004, the statistics department said. (Reuters) Albanian power State-run Albanian power utility KESH said yesterday it had assigned a 10.7-million-euro project for the modernization of the country’s power grid to Croatian electrical equipment concern Koncar. «The project is financed through an European Investment Bank 30-million-euro loan signed in 2003,» a statement said. (SeeNews)