In Brief

Eurobank profit seen rising to 221.5 mln euros EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Greece’s second-biggest lender by assets, is expected to say profit in the second quarter gained on loan growth in Greece and Southeast Europe. Net income probably rose to 221.5 million euros ($347 million) from 213 million euros a year earlier, according to the median estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. Income from lending probably gained 22 percent to 587 million euros, in part as the Athens-based lender pushes into faster- growing economies such as Bulgaria and Romania. Operating expenses probably advanced 17 percent to 391 million euros in the quarter, the survey showed. Nikos Nanopoulos, the company’s chief executive officer, said on July 2 that second-quarter earnings would beat first-quarter results, boosted mainly by «organic sources.» Eurobank’s first-quarter profit gained to 215 million euros from 204 million euros a year earlier, it reported in May. Eurobank will report earnings on July 30 after the close of stock trading in Athens. (Bloomberg) Bulgaria ratifies pact on South Stream pipeline SOFIA (Reuters) – The Bulgarian Parliament ratified an agreement with Russia yesterday to join the Kremlin-backed South Stream pipeline project due to supply natural gas to Southeast Europe. The project, estimated to cost about 10 billion euros, will be jointly built by Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom and Italy’s ENI, and carry 30 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year. Serbia, Hungary and Greece have also agreed to join. Gazprom has said Austria will sign up too. Some officials in Brussels see South Stream as a rival to the European Union-backed 7.9-billion-euro Nabucco gas project which aims at making the bloc less dependent on Russian gas. Gazprom supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas. But Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov told parliament earlier this week that South Stream was not an alternative to Nabucco. He said it was part of Russia’s strategy to bypass transit via Ukraine after political tensions between the two. (Reuters) Romanian growth Romania’s economy expanded by 8 percent in the first half of the year, compared with an expansion rate of 8.2 percent in the first quarter, Finance and Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian said yesterday. First-quarter growth outstripped market expectations, accelerating from 6 percent in 2007 on the back of strong domestic consumption. A Reuters poll conducted earlier this month put the mid-range forecast for second-quarter growth at 7.7 percent. The National Statistics Board is expected to release half-year economic growth data on September 1. «We have some figures for the first half; economic growth is at 8 percent,» Vosganian told television station The Money Channel. (Reuters) Inflation rise Turkish consumer prices are expected to have risen 0.32 percent in July, with pressure coming from an increase in electricity prices at the start of the month, a Reuters poll showed yesterday. A survey of 13 economists also showed producer prices rising 0.40 percent on the month. «This will be a month in which we see the direct effects of the electricity price hike,» said Ozlem Bayraktar Korcan, economist at Unicorn Capital in Istanbul, adding that the direct effect would be 0.5-0.6 points on the consumer price index. (Reuters)