In Brief

November unemployment rate matches record low Greece’s unemployment rate dropped for a second straight month in November to 7.6 percent, matching the lowest monthly rate since comparable records began in 2004. A total of 373,410 people were registered as jobless in the month, compared with 446,936, or 9.1 percent, in November 2006, the National Statistics Service said in a statement today, without giving additional details. The jobless rate is not adjusted for seasonal factors. The Greek economy is in its 14th consecutive year of expansion, experiencing its longest period of growth since the 1960s. That has created about 630,000 jobs in the country of 11 million people in the last decade, reducing unemployment by more than four percentage points, National Bank, the country’s biggest lender, said last year. According to quarterly data published on December 19, unemployment fell to a nine-year low of 7.9 percent in three months through September. (Bloomberg) Greece prices March 2024 bond OAT plus 41 bps Greece priced a 3.5-billion-euro increase to its 4.7 percent government bond, due March 2024, at OAT plus 41 basis points, the country’s debt management agency PDMA said yesterday. «Total offers reached 5.7 billion euros,» an official at PDMA said. Initial pricing guidance on Monday was set at 36 to 40 basis points over the French OAT. With buyers opting for core euro debt and selling peripherals on continuing credit worries, the spread widened. «There is a turn of buying interest to higher rated government paper like bonds because of credit worries,» said a bond trader at a large Greek bank. Greece is rated A by both Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings and A1 by Moody’s Investors Service. The settlement date is February 19. (Reuters) Turk fiscal discipline Strong January budget figures reflect a pickup in the economy and domestic demand, Turkish Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan told Reuters yesterday, adding that no extra budget measures would be needed. Data on Monday showed the budget ran a deficit of 524 million lira in January, about 90 percent lower than last year’s 6.096 billion lira, while the primary surplus jumped to 3.759 billion lira from 925 million lira in the same period last year. «The figures which we have achieved in the budget show that 2008 will be a good year but it is hard to give a forecast for the end of the year. However, fiscal discipline will be maintained as it has been,» Unakitan said. (Reuters) Hygeia buys in Cyprus Greek medical center Hygeia said yesterday it agreed to fully acquire Evangelismos maternity clinic in Cyprus for 7.58 million euros ($11.01 million), as part of its expansion strategy. The clinic owns 60 percent of private, 71-bed Evangelismos hospital in Paphos, built in 2003. The deal will be finalized after the completion of due diligence and the approval of the island’s competition commission. (Reuters)