In Brief

Inflation rate slows to 3.5 percent in August The annual rate of consumer inflation slowed to 3.5 percent in August due to lower fuel and fresh produce prices, and is seen as easing further this month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) chief said yesterday. The drop from a 3.8 percent annual pace in July was sharper than expected. Economists were forecasting the Consumer Price Index (CPI) would slow to 3.7 percent in August based on a recent Reuters survey. Still, Greek inflation remained more than one percentage point above the eurozone’s 2.3 percent. «The decline in August is due to the drop in fuel prices and fresh produce,» said NSS Secretary-General Manolis Kontopyrakis. «If fuel prices remain at current levels, we will have a reduction of 0.2 points in September to 3.3 percent.» While inflation is seen as easing further this month, analysts expect it to head north in October. «We may see another drop in September but a pickup is likely in October as a heating oil effects come into the picture,» said economist Michael Lambrianos at Piraeus Bank. Apart from heating fuel, broader second-round effects from expensive oil were likely to exert inflationary pressure. «Looking ahead, consumer inflation is expected to range between 3.3 to 3.6 percent over the next few months with risks skewed to the upside due to second-round effects from oil,» said economist Platon Monokroussos at EFG Eurobank. Last month, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told Reuters the country’s inflation may exceed the official target of 3.2 percent for the year. (Reuters) OPAP denies rumors of takeover of casino operator Gaming monopoly OPAP yesterday dismissed press reports that it is interested in acquiring Britain’s biggest casino operator Stanley Leisure. «OPAP has no interest in making an offer for Stanley Leisure,» a senior OPAP official told Reuters. Yesterday, press reports said OPAP was a possible suitor for Stanley Leisure. Malaysian casino and power group Genting Bhd, which already holds a fifth of the British casino operator, has made a takeover offer for Stanley Leisure. Stanley Leisure and rival London Clubs, nearly 30 percent-owned by Genting, had been in merger talks until last Thursday when London Clubs agreed to a 279-million-pound (412.2 million euros) takeover by Las Vegas-based Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s biggest casino operator. (Reuters) Bid deadline Romania will probably set a new deadline after September 20 for improved offers in the sale of bank CEC Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu said yesterday. The CEC sale is one of the last opportunities to get a major foothold in fast-growing emerging Europe. The government hopes to book 700 million euros ($899 million) from the sale of a 69.9 percent stake in the country’s oldest bank. (Reuters)