ECONOMY

In Brief

Country’s current account deficit narrows in February Greece’s current account deficit narrowed to 1.843 billion euros in February, mainly due to surpluses in the current transfers and services balances, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. The country’s current account gap in February fell 1.317 billion euros from February 2007. «The services surplus expanded by 703 million euros, reflecting higher net transport receipts. The travel services balance remained almost unchanged, while net payments for other services grew. It should be noted that gross transport receipts (mainly from merchant shipping) increased by 45 percent and gross travel receipts by 14.6 percent,» said the central bank. Figures showed that in the two-month period, the current account gap dropped 13 percent to reach 4.939 billion euros. «The deficit in the coming months is seen as remaining at last year’s levels, given that the transfers balance is not expected to be as favorable as the start of the year,» said National Bank’s Nikos Magginas. (Reuters) Turkish shares rise, boosted by Koc insurance sales ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish shares gained yesterday, shrugging off losses in foreign markets as news, such as Koc Holding’s sale of insurance company stakes, provided support of sentiment. Turkey’s main stock index ended up 0.99 percent at 43,065.24 points, extending a rally of 2.5 percent on Friday. «News of Koc Holding’s sale of stakes in insurance companies had a positive impact on both holding shares and the insurance sector,» said Meksa Investment Research Director Tuncay Tursucu. Allianz and Koc said they had signed an accord allowing Allianz to raise its stake in Koc Allianz Sigorta AS to 84.2 percent from 37.1 percent. Allianz was paying nearly $600 million in buying stakes in two companies from Koc. Hapoalim in Turkey Bank Hapoalim Ltd, Israel’s largest bank by assets, invested an additional $64 million in Turkish lender Bank Pozitif Ve Kalkinma Bankasi AS, raising its stake to 65 percent. Hapoalim bought another 7.45 percent stake on April 18, it said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The bank paid $100 million for a 58 percent stake in November 2006. Hapoalim is looking to expand its operations abroad as the lender has the most losses linked to the US subprime crisis of any Israeli bank. (Bloomberg) Commerzbank-MIG Commerzbank, Germany’s second-largest bank, increased its stake in Greek buyout fund Marfin Investment Group to 7.2 percent. Commerzbank previously held 0.8 percent of the company, according to a filing with the Athens Exchange. (Bloomberg) Iraq oil State-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) is in talks with some firms for possible cooperation on large-scale oil exploration in Iraq, General Manager Mehmet Uysal told Reuters yesterday. Uysal also said he saw a high chance for TPAO to be listed for exploration in Iraq’s medium-sized oil fields. (Reuters)