ECONOMY

In Brief

March CPI inflation steady at 4.4 percent Greek headline consumer inflation was steady at an annual 4.4 percent pace in March, as high energy costs weighed, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Last week the government revised its average inflation forecast for this year higher to 3.5 percent from 2.8 percent, to reflect stronger than expected upward price pressures. «Inflation stayed at high levels in March, fed by rising processed food and energy prices. These items have added 1.3 percentage points to the annual rate. In the coming months we see a gradual easing of inflationary pressures, with the CPI a touch above 4.0 percent,» said National Bank economist Nikos Magginas. «The 7.21 percent rise in heating oil prices in March and gasoline by 1.4 percent was the main reason for the CPI remaining at February’s levels,» said NSS chief Manolis Kontopyrakis. (Reuters) Eurobank CEO sees Q1 better than last year EFG Eurobank, the country’s second-largest lender, expects first-quarter performance to top last year’s results, its chief executive told the annual shareholders meeting yesterday. «Overall financial results for this year’s first quarter will be better than the respective three-month period in 2007,» Nikos Nanopoulos said. «The increase in loan volumes and deposits is quite strong in Greece as well as in the countries of New Europe,» he added. Nanopoulos said the bank is sticking to its 2008-10 business plan targets, despite a more challenging environment. Eurobank is aiming to increase earnings to 1.03 billion euros this year and to 1.55 billion by 2010. (Reuters) Greece-UK events The British Hellenic Chamber of Commerce has scheduled a series of high-profile events in Athens and Thessaloniki this year, within the framework of the «2 Nations, Athens 2008-London 2009» program. The program aims to promote British and Greek interests and to develop bilateral relations in new sectors. The events, to take place between May and November, will cover such sectors as economy, business, science, arts, sports and lifestyle. The program will include visits by prominent personalities. Bourse outflows. Foreign investors took a net 360 million euros out of Greece’s stock market in March, but still owned half of the equity market’s free float, data compiled by the Athens Exchange showed yesterday. The Athens bourse said foreign portfolios owned 50.5 percent of the Greek market’s free float versus 50.8 percent in February. (Reuters) Building permits fall Greek construction activity, measured by the number of new building permits, fell 13.5 percent year-on-year in January, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. The NSS said 4,946 new permits were issued nationwide in January. (Reuters) J&P Avax J&P Avax SA, Greece’s second-largest construction company, said Fidelity International Ltd, the London-based affiliate of the world’s largest mutual fund manager, holds a 5.5 percent stake. (Bloomberg)