ECONOMY

In Brief

Stanleybet to open more outlets in Greece Stanleybet International Ltd, a UK sports betting company established in 1997, said the opening of two outlets in Greece is in accordance with European law and it plans to open more in the country to tap betting revenues. «Our plans are simple,» Adrian Morris, Stanleybet’s deputy managing director, said in a telephone interview yesterday. «We’re always looking at new markets and research indicates Greece has a substantial sports betting market.» UK- and Malta-based Stanleybet said on Wednesday it had opened a store in Athens and another in Thessaloniki. The outlets are a challenge to the monopoly on sports betting held by Greek gaming company OPAP SA, which said in a statement it will «resolutely» defend its rights. (Bloomberg) Retail sales volume falls for second month Greece’s retail sales by volume fell for a second month in August, dropping 4.1 percent year-on-year, after a 2.0 percent annual drop in July, data by the National Statistics Service showed yesterday. Retail sales by revenues fell 0.9 percent year-on-year in August after a 1.6 percent rise the previous month. «Retail sales volume posted its biggest annual drop since February, mainly due to the significant fall in durable consumer goods sales as well as clothing and footwear, showing a further deceleration in consumer demand in the third quarter of the year,» said National Bank economist Nicholas Magginas. «Figures point to the maintaining of consumer demand at current levels over the next few months, which reflect a further deceleration of economic activity in the second half of the year.» (Reuters) Bulgarian rating Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said yesterday it had cut Bulgaria’s credit rating to BBB from BBB+ with a negative outlook, citing worries about external imbalances. «The downgrade reflects our concerns over the sovereign’s heightened external vulnerabilities,» S&P credit analyst Marko Mrsnik said in a statement. «If we believe the economic and fiscal situation is significantly worsening, the ratings on Bulgaria could be lowered again, but we would expect the ratings to remain in the BBB category,» S&P added. (Reuters) Power trading Merrill Lynch & Co plans to extend its European power trading operations to Bulgaria and Greece. Merrill is «finalizing» preparations to start trading in those two countries, according to Jivko Jekov, director of Central and Eastern European power trading. The brokerage firm already trades power in Western Europe and from Poland to Romania, he said. (Bloomberg) Spread widens Italian and Greek government bond spreads yesterday hit their widest versus benchmark German Bunds since the adoption of the euro currency in 1999, ahead of an Italian BTP auction. Italy’s 10-year government bond yield spread widened to 129 basis points over Bunds, from 111 basis points earlier in the session. Italy will issue up to 3.5 billion euros of new 10-year BTPs. The risk premium for buying 10-year Greek bonds against Bunds jumped to 165 basis points from 141 basis points earlier in the session. (Reuters)