ECONOMY

In Brief

Istanbul and Athens exchanges on verge of creating joint index The Istanbul Stock Exchange and the Athens Exchange are on the verge of establishing a joint index as the bourses seek to attract investors, said Huseyin Erkan, chairman of the Istanbul bourse. The exchanges are about to sign an agreement for the common index of the 15 biggest listed companies from each country, said Erkan in an interview in his office overlooking the Bosporus strait in Istanbul yesterday. There will be a maximum of four Turkish banks on the index, he said without providing further details. The Istanbul exchange also awarded a license to a Turkish bank to set up an exchange-traded fund for the ISE-30, the index of Turkey’s 30 biggest listed companies, Erkan said. The fund, which will probably start trading in a month, will have a minimum size of 100 million liras ($62.5 million), he said without providing further details. (Bloomberg) Intracom Telecom completes 2.5-million-euro Polish project Intracom Telecom (IT), majority-held by Russia’s JSC Sitronics, has completed the installation of a 2.5-million-euro project for Polish mobile telecommunications company Polkomtel, the Greek firm said yesterday. The project included a hardware upgrade, software license extension and enhanced reporting capabilities of the operator’s existing SS7 Signaling Monitoring System. Intracom Holdings owns 49 percent of IT. Coke bottler upgraded Reckitt Benckiser Plc was upgraded to «buy» from «neutral» at Merrill Lynch & Co, which said the the maker of Lysol household cleaners may benefit from a weaker pound. The brokerage also raised its recommendation for Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co to «buy» from «neutral,» saying the second-biggest bottler of Coke drinks «is now appropriately addressing the cost base to protect profitability.» (Bloomberg) Romanian contract Mochlos SA, a Greek construction company, signed a 56-million-euro ($74.5 million) contract to upgrade a section of a roadway in central Romania, according to a company filing to the Athens bourse yesterday. (Bloomberg) Inflation decelerates Romania’s annual inflation rate fell even further than expected in December to 6.3 percent, strengthening the chances of the country’s central bank cutting interest rates next month to support a sharply slowing economy. A number of economists expect Romania’s economic growth to have slowed to less than 4 percent in the last three months of 2008, from 9.1 percent in the third quarter, as global financial turmoil slashed demand and sources of financing for investment. But the impact on inflation is being tempered by a weak leu currency, which hit record lows against the euro this week because of worries about Romania’s current account gap and the fiscal policy of the new center-left government. Annual inflation was 6.7 percent in November and economists had forecast it would edge down to 6.6 percent in December. Yesterday’s data showed prices rose 0.2 percent on the month in December, compared with a 0.5 percent forecast. (Reuters)