In Brief

S&P says Greek ratings unaffected by early election Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said yesterday that its sovereign credit ratings and outlook on the Hellenic Republic are not affected by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s decision to call early parliamentary elections. «Irrespective of the political makeup of the new administration, the country’s credit profile will be shaped by its future strategy toward expenditure reform. The ratings would be supported by an increased focus on primary expenditure discipline, particularly on pension reform, delivering a clearly discernible trend toward general government balance or to a surplus by the end of the decade,» S&P said. A sustained decrease in the debt burden over the medium term to about 90 percent of GDP, in accordance with the government’s own Stability and Growth Program projections, is also seen as supporting the ratings. Bulgaria restarts nuclear reactor after maintenance SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s sole nuclear power plant Kozloduy has restarted a 1,000-megawatt reactor after completing a planned annual maintenance, upgrade and refueling, the plant said yesterday. The reactor was connected to the national power grid on Thursday, 13 days earlier than Kozloduy’s initial deadline, the company said in a statement. The unit worked at 68 percent of its capacity yesterday morning, it said. Kozloduy’s other 1,000-MW reactor was working at full capacity. Bulgaria closed two of Kozloduy’s 440-megawatt reactors at the end of last year over safety concerns and as part of its European Union entry arrangements. Bulgaria, which until recently covered around 80 percent of the power consumption needs in the Balkans with exports, has said it would not be able to export electricity this year because of the shutdowns. Sofia plans to build a new 4-billion-euro 2,000-MW nuclear power plant to meet rising domestic demand and regain its position as a leading exporter of electricity in Southeast Europe. Drought hits Romania Romanian wheat prices almost doubled from a year ago after a prolonged drought scorched thousands of hectares under grain, slashing the wheat crop to a four-year low, bakers and millers said. Excessively high temperatures have cut the Black Sea state’s wheat crop to a meager 3 million tons against 5.4 million in 2006, when cold snaps severely damaged its grain production. «Lack of grain lifted prices to around 230 euros a ton at the mills. That’s double what we paid last year,» Aurel Popescu, head of Romania’s biggest association of millers and bakers told Reuters. (Reuters) Cyprus trade deficit Cyprus’s trade deficit in the first five months of 2007 widened to 1.13 billion Cyprus pounds ($2.6 billion) from 1.01 billion Cyprus pounds in the same period last year, the statistics department said yesterday. According to summarized data, the value of exports dropped to 275 million Cyprus pounds in January to May from 291 million in the same period in 2006. The value of imports rose to 1.41 billion Cyprus pounds from 1.3 billion, respectively. (Reuters)