Greek October consumer prices slow to 26-month low Softer fuel prices slowed Greece’s consumer inflation to a 26-month low, at 2.8 percent in October, but a pickup is expected in November, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Consumer prices have braked from a 3.5 percent annual pace in August but remain more than a full percentage point above the eurozone average, with economists blaming weak competition in product and labor markets. Consumer inflation in the 12 countries sharing the euro fell to 1.6 percent in October, based on estimates by EU statistics agency Eurostat, meaning Greece’s inflation was 120 basis points higher. November inflation is expected to accelerate by about 0.2 percentage points, due mainly to an unfavorable base effect, the NSS projected. «This is due to the large drop in gasoline prices in November 2005, which is not expected again this month,» it said. The country’s EU-harmonized rate, used to measure inflation in the 12 countries sharing the euro, was steady at 3.1 percent. Based on this measure, Greece’s inflation differential is wider – at 150 basis points. (Reuters) France’s Credit Agricole bids for Turkey’s Oyak, daily reports PARIS (Reuters) – French bank Credit Agricole has made an offer for 100 percent of Turkey’s Oyakbank, which is owned by army pension fund Oyak, newspaper Les Echos reported yesterday. The newspaper said the French bank was in competition with Britain’s Standard Chartered and the winner was expected to be announced next week. Credit Agricole could not immediately be reached for comment. Oyak said last month it could retain a stake of more than 50 percent in the unlisted bank if there was a possibility of a long-term partnership, but it may sell the entire bank if only a small stake remains. Turkey’s banks have attracted strong foreign interest with a string of acquisitions in the last two years, with purchases by Fortis, Dexia and Greece’s National Bank. Oyakbank at the end of last year had 307 branches and assets of 8.4 billion lira. The bank offers services to retail, corporate and small and medium-sized business clients. Bulgaria investment Spanish property company Riofisa plans to invest 215 million euros ($275 million) in a second shopping center in Bulgaria, continuing its foreign expansion. Riofisa said it expected to make 20 million euros a year in rent from the 70,000-square-meter shopping center in Plovdiv. Work should start in 2007 and finish by 2009. Riofisa, which like other Spanish construction companies is moving into the fast-growing Eastern European market, started its first shopping and entertainment center in the Bulgarian capital Sofia in September. It also has two projects in Romania. (Reuters) Industrial output drops Greek industrial output fell 2.6 percent year-on-year in September after a 2.3 percent rise in August, due to lower mining, electricity and natural gas production, the country’s statistics service (NSS) said yesterday.