No price hikes after euro intro

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Authorities on Cyprus said on Friday that adoption of the euro on January 1 had not triggered price increases, dispelling fears islanders had of roundups from the changeover. In a weekly assessment of consumer items from stores across the island, the Commerce Ministry said that a comparison of prices in the first week of 2008 showed no increases, and price reductions in some cases. «The adoption of the euro on January 1 does not appear to have pushed prices up. On the contrary, a rounding-down of prices has been noted in most cases,» the Commerce Ministry said. The Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta traded in their pounds to become the 14th and 15th members of the eurozone on January 1. The Cypriot Finance Ministry has reported a relatively seamless changeover, but long queues have been forming at commercial banks by Cypriots rushing to change their pounds. The pound will continue to be legal tender in cash transactions with the euro until January 31. Overworked bank employees on Friday urged Cypriots to show restraint in their haste to cash pounds, which can still be exchanged at banks until June. Moody’s rating Moody’s Investors Service raised the foreign and local currency credit ratings for Cyprus and Malta following their inclusion in the eurozone on January 1, lifting the number of nations who use the euro currency to 15. Moody’s now rates Cyprus Aa3, up one notch from A1 and Malta at A1, up one notch from a rating of A2, the firm said in a statement.