ECONOMY

In Brief

Foreign inflows into Greek stocks exceed 2006 figure Foreign investors have been the net buyers of Greek equities so far this year, with inflows in the year to July already topping the 5.52 billion euros that was plowed into shares last year, the Athens bourse said. The participation of foreign investors has been steadily rising since 2002, when they owned 28.6 percent of the available free float of Greek equities. Hellenic Exchanges, operator of the Athens stock and futures markets, said 6.2 billion euros flowed into Greek stocks from abroad in the year to July. Of this amount, 428 million went in in the last month. In contrast Greek investors were net sellers in July as outflows reached 386.3 million. The bourse said foreign portfolios increased their ownership of the free float of FTSE/ASE 20 blue chip stocks to 58.34 percent in July from 57.2 percent in June. The ATHEX’s total market capitalization, including all listed shares, rose 4.7 percent from the previous month to reach 189.9 billion euros in July. (Reuters) Cyprus competition watchdog probes Marfin BOC buy NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s Competition watchdog opened an inquiry into Marfin Popular Bank yesterday for possibly infringing competition rules by buying a stake in rival Bank of Cyprus. The acquisition «created serious doubts as to its compatibility with the competitive market,» the Competition Commission said in a statement. Marfin, primarily active in Greece and Cyprus, acquired an 8.07 percent stake in Bank of Cyprus (BOC) in March, snapping up the share from Greece’s Piraeus Bank. A Marfin source told Reuters the stake was now lower and closer to 7.0 percent. Last month Marfin was fined by the regulator for failing to notify it of the Bank of Cyprus acquisition. Yesterday’s ruling, which was unanimous, is a different process which will investigate the share acquisition itself. Exports rise Greek exports were up 7.1 percent in value in the first five months of 2007, year-on-year, reaching 7.07 billion euros. Exports to EU countries rose 29.3 percent to 4.52 billion euros, while those to third countries were down 18 percent to 2.54 billion euros. Germany remains the best customer of Greek exports, having absorbed 11.3 percent more, year-on-year, to reach 837.6 million euros. Cyprus HICP up Cyprus’s EU harmonized inflation rate (HICP) accelerated to 2.3 percent year-on-year in July from 1.7 percent in June, the statistics department said yesterday. The HICP rate was lower than headline consumer inflation in July, which was running at an annual 2.4 percent pace. (Reuters)