ECONOMY

In Brief

Volume of gov’t bonds hits 16.2 bln euros The volume of Greek government debt traded on the central bank’s electronic system (HDAT) rose to 16.24 billion euros ($21.5 billion) in March from 13.88 billion in February, the Bank of Greece said yesterday. Trading volume was up year-on-year, as 8.62 billion euros in Greek bonds had changed hands in March 2008. Daily average turnover last month rose to 812 million euros from 694 million in February. Greek government bonds fell across the entire maturity spectrum in March, particularly at the short end of the yield curve. The most actively traded bond was the 10-year benchmark, which recorded 4.4 billion euros’ worth of transactions. Investor interest focused on government paper with remaining maturities of between seven and 15 years, which accounted for 48 percent of overall volume. The 10-year benchmark bond yield fell 36 basis points to 5.74 percent, with 30-year yields dropping 3 bps to 6.06 percent. As a result, Greece’s yield curve was significantly steeper at the end of March. (Reuters) Belgrade unveils new cost-cutting measures BELGRADE (AFP) – The government of crisis-hit Serbia yesterday presented a number of cost-cutting measures aimed at reducing the budget deficit by 1 billion euros ($1.34 billion) in order to meet International Monetary Fund requirements. In March, the IMF and Serbia agreed on a standby loan worth $4 billion to boost the finances of the country, which has been hit hard by the global economic crisis. The deal is subject to approval by the IMF management and executive board. The measures presented by Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic were described as «the most massive adjustment of public finances.» They include a 10 percent downsizing of public administration, cutting costs and spending by public servants and the introduction of taxes on mobile phones, gasoline and luxurious cars and yachts. «Eighty-five percent of the measures are to tackle costs, while only 15 percent will burden incomes,» Cvetkovic said. Shares jump Helesi Plc, a maker of plastic products, touched its highest point in a more than a month in London trading, after saying profit rose 6 percent in 2008 on increased demand for waste management services. Helesi gained as much as 7.5 pence, or 23 percent, to 40 pence in London, making it the biggest ever gain since Helesi first sold shares in November 2006. The stock closed at 36 pence, giving the company a market value of 11.8 million pounds ($17.4 million). Helesi, whose clients include the governments of Italy and Greece, is seeking to profit from European legislation aimed at encouraging more recycling. (Bloomberg) Rate reduction Romania’s central bank is likely to cut interests rates by a quarter point in May, a Reuters poll showed yesterday, after tumbling demand likely eased inflation in March and deepened an expected economic contraction. So far, the global crisis made money more expensive for Romanians and weakened the leu currency by 3.5 percent this year, hurting domestic demand, formerly a key driver of economic growth, and putting upward pressure on prices. (Reuters)