ECONOMY

In Brief

Cyprus in talks about natural gas suppliers NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus is holding informal talks with Egypt and Algeria for the supply of liquid natural gas as the island tries to reduce its reliance on heavy fuel oils, the country’s energy regulator said yesterday. Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority Chairman Costas Ioannou told Reuters in an interview he was also optimistic the island could meet its European Union commitment to generate 6 percent of its total energy from renewables by 2010, and 13 percent by 2020. The island, he said, could nevertheless be looking at penalties of around 20 million euros ($25.29 million) annually for its carbon dioxide emissions in the immediate term, for as long as the island’s power grids continued to rely on polluting heavy fuel oil and renewable energy generation was low. «We don’t have the luxury other countries of Europe have of being interconnected. We are a small isolated system and we are using heavy fuel oil for the generation of all our electricity,» Ioannou told Reuters in an interview. OPAP profit seen rising 26 pct on lower costs Europe’s biggest betting firm, OPAP, is expected to post a 26.3 percent rise in 2008 profit thanks to lower operating expenses and the absence of a one-off cost for a charity incurred in 2007, analysts said yesterday. Eight analysts polled by Reuters forecast group net profit of 721.89 million euros ($912.6 million) on average, up from 571.4 million in the same period last year. Analysts cited operating cost containment and lower payouts to winners as factors boosting the bottom line. OPAP incurred a one-off cost of 50 million euros in 2007, money donated to Greece’s fire victims. Excluding the donation from 2007 numbers, OPAP’s net profit is expected to have grown 18.5 percent last year. The company is scheduled to report 2008 figures on Monday after the close of trade on the Athens bourse. (Reuters, Kathimerini) Bond volume The volume of Greek government debt traded on the central bank’s electronic system (HDAT) rose to 13.88 billion euros ($17.4 billion) in February from 12.08 billion in January, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. But trading volume was down year-on-year as 41.31 billion euros of Greek bonds had changed hands in February 2008. Daily average turnover last month rose to 694 million euros from 604 million in January. Greek government bonds recorded significant gains in February as yields fell across the board with the 15-year benchmark bond being the only exception. (Reuters) Borrowing costs Emerging-market borrowing costs fell from a seven-week high on speculation oil prices will rise above $50 a barrel by May, boosting developing nations’ export revenue. The extra yield investors demand to own emerging-market bonds instead of US Treasuries narrowed 12 basis points, or 0.12 percentage point, to 6.83 percentage points at early in New York, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co’s EMBI+ Index. The spread reached a seven-week high on March 6. (Bloomberg)