In Brief

Garganas says bank competition increasing Competition in Greece’s banking system has been rising steadily in the last decade and further merger activity will boost it even more, the country’s top central banker said yesterday during a parliamentary briefing. «The level of competition is about the same as in other European countries,» Nicholaos Garganas said. He reiterated the central bank’s view that mergers, particularly among smaller lenders, lead to stronger competition and are seen favorably by the Bank of Greece. «The entry of new banks into the system intensifies competition,» Garganas said. He said Greeks should be content to have joined a strong currency, the euro, given a previous history of currency weakness and devaluations with the drachma. Positive prospects for the country’s tourism Tourism demand in Greece will increase by an annual rate of 6.5 percent by 2016, the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) estimates in a report it delivered to the Tourism Development Ministry. Greece enjoys healthy growth in tourism, so it will easily exceed the global average of 4.2 percent and the EU average of 3.5 percent, the WTTC suggests. Employment in Greek tourism will rise by 152,000 jobs until 2016, maintaining its 10.3 percent share of all employment in Greece’s job market. For tourism in Greece to realize all its potential, it requires strong state support and well-planned strategies, says the WTTC. Big demand for 10-yr bond Greece’s reopening of a 4.3 percent, 10-year government paper met with strong demand yesterday with the auction oversubscribed five times, the country’s Public Management Debt Agency (PDMA) said. The PDMA sold a total of 1.8 billion euros of the bond, one of the eurozone’s highest yielders, topping off the sought amount of 1.5 billion euros with 300 million euros of non-competitive bids. «Greek bonds are high-yield compared to other eurozone countries,» said the treasury head at a large Greek bank who declined to be named. «There is great demand, especially for the Greek 10-year bonds.» (Reuters) Romanian jobless Romania’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent last month from 5.2 percent in February, the country’s employment agency said in a statement yesterday. The new European Union member is struggling to plug a growing shortage of workers, mainly in the construction sector, as more than one in 10 Romanians has left the country since the fall of communism in 1989, seeking higher wages abroad. (Reuters) Turkish lira stronger Turkey’s lira strengthened to below 1.3500 against the dollar in after-hours trade yesterday, firming to levels not seen since May 10 last year. At 1250 GMT it traded at 1.3480 to the dollar, and traders attributed the move to softer-than-expected US inflation data. (Reuters)

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