In Brief

December CPI inflation seen at 3-year high Greece’s consumer price inflation, among the highest in the eurozone, is seen as accelerating further to a 35-month high in December mainly due to higher energy prices, economists said yesterday. Four economists surveyed by Reuters expect December inflation to pick up to an annual 4.0 percent pace on average, its highest reading since January 2005. November consumer inflation accelerated to 3.9 percent year-on-year. «The surge in energy prices continues fueling headline inflation in conjunction with rising food prices and the increase in electricity prices,» said economist Nick Magginas at National Bank of Greece. The projected inflation rate is higher than average consumer inflation in the 15 eurozone countries, which rose to 3.1 percent in December, according to initial estimates from Eurostat. Power utility Public Power Corporation increased charges by up to 10 percent last month, helping push 2007 average inflation to 2.9 percent, according to economists. The National Statistics Service will release December inflation data on Thursday. (Reuters) Greece 2040 bond tap orders over 4 bln euros LONDON (Reuters) – Greece attracted strong demand for a benchmark-sized increase to its 2040 government bond, with orders surpassing 4 billion euros ($5.9 billion), an official at one of the banks managing the sale said yesterday. The increase to the sovereign’s 4.6 percent bond due September 2040 is expected to be priced today at 45 to 48 basis points over the January 2037 German Bund, a second official said. Deutsche Bank, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, National Bank of Greece and Societe Generale are managing the sale. Greece is rated A1 by Moody’s Investors Service and A by both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. Cyprus Air – Swissport Cypriot airline Cyprus Airways has created a joint venture with Swissport GAP Vassilopoulos to offer ground-handling services, it said yesterday. The two companies have submitted a bid to airport operator Hermes Airports for a ground-handling license at Larnaca and Paphos airports, Cyprus Airways said. The joint-venture deal was signed on January 4, the airline said in a statement. Staff at Cyprus Airways had threatened strike action in December over the venture, which they said would affect their employment benefits. Cyprus Airways management have said a ground-handling contract would help boost revenues of the airline, which has made losses in recent years. (Reuters) Cypriot HICP Cyprus’s EU harmonized inflation rate (HICP) rose to 3.7 percent year-on-year in December from 3.2 percent in November, the statistics department said yesterday. For the January-December 2007 period, HICP increased 2.2 percent, the same rate of inflation as 2006, the statistics department said. (Reuters) Turk gold imports Turkey’s gold imports rose 19.8 percent year-on-year to 230.8 tons in 2007, posting the third-largest volume recorded, data from the Istanbul Gold Exchange showed yesterday. Gold bullion imports to Turkey, one of the top three consumers of the metal, fell by 16.3 percent in December alone to 10.95 tons, data showed. (Reuters)