ECONOMY

In Brief

Growth in Q1 shows economy returning to pre-Olympics levels The economy grew by a handsome 4.1 percent during the year’s first quarter, the National Statistics Service announced yesterday. Domestic demand, as well as investments, which rose by 6.9 percent against a 0.9 percent decline in Q1 of 2005, drove growth to levels that remind of the pre-Olympics period and create high expectations. Consumption spending grew annually by 3.4 percent, while exports grew by 1.8 percent year-on-year. The government had set a 3.8 percent growth target for the entire year. Turk trade deficit swells to record high ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s trade deficit swelled 50 percent year-on-year to a record high in April, official data showed yesterday, sharply outstripping expectations and fueling concerns about the ballooning trade gap. The Turkey Statistics Institute (TUIK) said the deficit totaled $5.2 billion last month, compared to a median forecast of $4.55 billion in a Reuters poll. Exports fell 6.1 percent to $5.754 billion, while imports rose 14.2 percent to $10.954 billion. Ozgur Altug, economist at Raymond James, said a steep slide in the lira in May should improve future numbers. Kino Gaming monopoly OPAP will extend playing hours for its Kino lottery game by an hour during the soccer World Cup, its chief executive said yesterday. Vassilis Neiadas said the company will extend playing hours for Kino to eight per day from seven. OPAP offers the Kino lottery at its 5,540 outlets in Greece and Cyprus and plans to launch the game on Greek ships to target thousands of tourists. OPAP shareholders also approved a 0.94 euro per share dividend for 2005, translating to a dividend yield of 3.46 percent based on Tuesday’s closing price at 27.1 euros. (Reuters) Louis Cypriot cruise and hotel operator Louis posted a 10.87-million-pound ($24.1 million) pre-tax loss for the first quarter, up from a 8.78-million-pound loss in the first quarter of 2005. The group blamed the losses on the seasonality of its tourism-driven business, which drops off in winter, and said it expected pre-tax results for the whole year to show «significant gains.» It posted a pretax profit of 4.60 million pounds for the whole of 2005. Operating income for the first quarter of 2006 eased to 12.04 million pounds from 15.4 million in the same period of last year. (Reuters) Retail sales Greece’s retail sales volume rose 5.9 percent year-on-year in March, unchanged from a 5.9 percent pace in February, data by the National Statistics Service showed yesterday. Retail sales by revenues rose 7.7 percent year-on-year in March compared with a 7.3 percent rise in February. (Reuters) Coke upgrade Investment bank Goldman Sachs said Coca-Cola HBC’s share price had underperformed the beverage sector in the last month and a 14 percent fall from its all-time high of 27.7 euros had brought it back to a more attractive entry level and its fair value was 28.40 euros.