In Brief

Economy-class ferry ticket prices frozen Greece will freeze the price of economy-class ferry tickets for domestic routes that are subject to maximum allowable charges, in a bid to support the country’s tourism industry. The move, applicable to passengers, cars and trucks of up to 4.25 meters in length, is with immediate effect and will run until April 2010, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The decision is designed to keep fares as low as possible for tourists and island residents, Merchant Marine Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said in the statement. Greece provides subsidized public service contracts for running ferry links to remote islands. If a ferry company chooses to take one of these contracts, there’s a ceiling to how much can be charged for tickets. Tourism accounts for about 17 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product and about one in five jobs, according to estimates by the World Travel and Tourism Council, an industry group. (Bloomberg) Cyprus to tap markets for 1 bln euros in bonds Cyprus plans to tap the international markets for 1 billion euros in bonds in an issue expected to be concluded by the first week of June at the latest, a senior government official said yesterday. The official, who declined to be named, told Reuters the island republic planned to start a roadshow in London next Monday, May 18. A formal announcement was expected today. (Reuters) Serbian loan The European Investment Bank (EIB) said yesterday it had launched a two-year loan program worth 1.4 billion euros (1.9 billion dollars) to help Serbia fight the financial crisis and draw closer to the European Union. The program began as Dario Scannapieco, the EIB’s vice president for the Western Balkans, and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic signed a first loan of 250 million euros for small and medium-sized enterprises and priority projects in the country, the EIB said in a statement. «This the first in a series of operations… aimed to support the recovery of the Serbian economy and pave the way toward European integration,» the bank said. (AFP) Bulgarian output Industrial output in Bulgaria continued to expand on a monthly basis in March, but was sharply lower than 12 months earlier, official data showed yesterday. The National Statistical Institute (NSI) calculated that industrial output grew by 7.7 percent on a monthly basis, but was still down 17.1 percent compared with the year-earlier figure. In February, output had expanded by 5.6 percent month-on-month, but contracted by 17.7 percent year-on-year. (AFP) Turk c/a narrows Turkey’s current account deficit narrowed in March from a year earlier as falling energy prices and slumping demand helped reduce the import bill. The deficit contracted to $992 million from a deficit of $4.3 billion in March 2007, the central bank in Ankara said on its web site yesterday. The gap, the widest measure of trade in goods and services, was forecast at $1.3 billion, according to the median estimate of 15 economists in a Bloomberg e-mail survey. (Bloomberg)

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