ECONOMY

In Brief

Athens bourse ends week on a year-high Greek stocks registered a new year-high yesterday, ahead of the four-day closure of the local bourse due to the Easter holiday. The sixth straight rise in prices sent the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index to 1,973.25 points, or 2.33 percent higher than Wednesday’s close. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index expanded by 2.61 percent to close at 1,007.80 points. The total rise of the bank index over the last six sessions has reached an impressive 67.17 percent. National Bank outperformed blue chips, with 5.76 percent growth, while Hellenic Petroleum led the losers with a 2.24 percent drop. Turnover reached 151.4 million euros yesterday. Central bank urges Tirana to seek IMF funds TIRANA (Reuters) – Albania should turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans, the central bank governor said yesterday, citing lack of liquidity as the main problem for the relatively poor Balkan country’s economy. Ahead of elections at the end of June, the government has continued to give a forecast of 6 percent growth in 2009, but the IMF recently said the former communist country would likely grow by up to 1 percent. «To this end, every possible option should be evaluated, including the programs of support from specialized international institutions,» Governor Ardian Fullani told parliament in a statement urging the government to restore relations with the IMF. Serb stimulus Serbia’s central bank said yesterday it would offer easier capital rules and a liquidity stimulus to all banks in Serbia that agree to maintain their exposure to the market unchanged through 2010. The central bank gave banks an April 30 deadline to commit to new measures, to become operational in the second half of May. Foreign banks own 75 percent of Serbia’s banks and officials are concerned that financial woes elsewhere will prompt their headquarters to pull assets from this Balkan country which one day hopes to join the European Union. (Reuters) Cyprus-Russia deal Cyprus yesterday initialed a new deal with Russia for an exemption from double taxation between the two countries, the Finance Ministry said. A deal was signed yesterday morning, which requires formal ratification by the authorities of both countries. Cyprus hosts hundreds of companies with Russian interests. Negotiations for a new deal had been pending since 2007. (Reuters) Iberdrola in Bulgaria Spanish utility Iberdrola has expressed interest in investing in nuclear and renewable energy projects in Bulgaria, the government in Sofia said yesterday. Iberdrola is considering nuclear projects along with US company Westinghouse, which is modernizing the Balkan country’s sole nuclear power plant Kozloduy, the government said after senior Iberdrola officials met with Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev on Wednesday. (Reuters) Turk grid sale Turkey’s Privatization Administration (OIB) will launch the sale of a second Black Sea electricity distribution grid that covers north central Turkey, along the Black Sea coast, a senior source at Turkey’s privatization agency OIB told Reuters yesterday. (Reuters)