In Brief

Unemployment falls to 8.6 percent in January The country’s unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in January from 9.6 the same month a year ago, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Greece, which had been reporting unemployment data on a quarterly basis, has started providing monthly figures this year, an official at the NSS said. Unemployment, along with rising consumer prices, are the top economic worries in successive public opinion polls. Despite Greece’s high economic growth, joblessness remains higher than the eurozone average, a sign that much of it is structural. The economy is projected to expand by 3.9 percent annually this year. Unemployment in the 13-member eurozone in January was 7.4 percent, according to European Union statistics office Eurostat. The NSS said there were 421,130 people officially unemployed in Greece. It also estimated that 4.49 million people had jobs. It said unemployment has been steadily declining from a rate of 11.7 percent in January 2004, the year Greece hosted the Olympic Games. Despite the improvement, joblessness continued to afflict women more than men. In January, unemployment among the female population was 13.6 percent compared to 5 percent for men. (Reuters) PPC still to decide on plant tender winner The Public Power Corporation said yesterday it has yet to decide on the winner of a tender to build a power plant in central Greece. Rival bidders Metka and Damco Energy on Monday both claimed they were the lowest bidders to undertake the construction of an electricity plant for PPC. «PPC has not yet completed its evaluation procedure to announce the lowest bidder,» the utility said in a stock market filing. Metka, a subsidiary of metals and engineering group Mytilineos, offered to build the plant for 62,209 euros per megawatt hour compared to an offer of 62,530 euros made by competitors, Metka said in a statement. Damco said its overall bid was for about 244 million euros, about 20 million euros less than Metka’s overall bid. The project tendered by PPC is for the building and maintenance of a power plant in Aliveri, central Greece. PPC did not give a time frame for its final decision. (Reuters) Turk oil pipeline Turkey will launch an oil pipeline between its Black Sea and Mediterranean coasts next Tuesday with a groundbreaking ceremony at the Ceyhan oil terminal, energy officials said yesterday. At an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, the 550-kilometer-long pipeline, to be completed in 2009, will carry Kazakh and Azeri oil from the Black Sea port of Samsun to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean, bypassing the congested Turkish straits. Indian Oil Corporation has joined the project, taking a 12.5 percent stake in the venture set up by Calik Energy and Italy’s Eni. The officials said an Italian minister would attend the ceremony, postponed from last month after Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi was unable to attend. (Reuters) New CSE head The Cypriot government appointed Giorgos Koufaris, the former CFO of Cypriot Telecommunications Authority (ATHK), as president of the Cyprus Stock Exchange. He succeeds Akis Kleanthous, who was recently appointed education minister.

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