ECONOMY

In Brief

Unemployment stays above eurozone average Greece’s unemployment rate was 8.0 percent in February, unchanged from the previous month, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said yesterday. Unemployment was 9.0 percent in February 2007, the NSS said. Greek unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Despite strong economic growth, the country’s jobless rate remains higher than the eurozone’s average, which was 7.1 percent in February, according to Eurostat. Economists estimate the country’s economy grew at an annual 3.4 percent pace in the first quarter. Greece’s unemployment rate has been declining since 2004 when it stood at 11.0 percent. «Employment growth picked up in February, showing the labor market remains resilient despite a slowdown in economic activity,» said economist Nicholas Magginas at National Bank. «We see the jobless rate easing to around 7.5 percent by the end of the year,» he said. The NSS said 394,169 people were officially unemployed in February, while an estimated 4.53 million had jobs. (Reuters) Turkish Enka says to build power plant in Russia ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s Enka Insaat, active in the energy and construction sectors, said yesterday it had signed a preliminary agreement to build a 400-megawatt power plant in Russia in a deal worth 329 million euros ($508 million). The combined-cycle plant will be built for Russian energy company OGK-4 and will be completed in the third quarter of 2011, Enka said in a statement to the stock exchange. Shares in Enka, which is also a big player in the Russian real estate sector, rose 1.7 percent after the news to 18.00 lira a share, outperforming a 0.7 percent rise on the main share index. Piraeus Bank Piraeus Bank, Greece’s fourth-largest lender, said yesterday first quarter net profit grew 46 percent to 138.5 million euros boosted by strong retail credit expansion. The bank said the figures excluded last year’s one-off gain of 153 million euros from the sale of a stake in Bank of Cyprus. It said group net interest income rose 38 percent to 266.4 million euros. (Reuters) Argentina-Greece Argentina and Greece, represented by deputy foreign ministers Victorio Jose Taccetti and Yiannis Valinakis respectively, in Athens yesterday signed an economic cooperation agreement. A series of separate agreements on tourism, education and maritime transport are expected to follow. DIY Germany’s DIY firm OBI, which already has a presence in 11 other Central and Eastern European countries, is to enter the Greek market in partnership with Greek furniture firm Sato. The first outlets are seen opening at the end of 2009-2010. Santorini The Aegean island of Santorini was voted the best cruise destination in the Mediterranean by the readers of Spanish specialist magazine Cruceros y Destinos. St Petersburg was voted best destination in Northern Europe and St Martin in the Caribbean.