In Brief

Cypriot economic expansion slows NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s economy slowed to 1.4 percent on a yearly basis and showed no growth in the first quarter of the year compared to the last three months of 2008, data showed yesterday. Flash gross domestic product growth estimates issued by the statistics department showed yearly growth of the island nation at 1.4 percent compared to 2.9 percent in the last quarter of 2008. Seasonally adjusted, growth was flat at zero in the first quarter of the year on a quarter-on-quarter basis, compared to 0.5 percent in the last quarter of last year. Negative growth rates were seen in the hospitality sector – hotels and restaurants – manufacturing, trade and transport, the statistics department said. There was, however, an upswing in financial services and satisfactory growth in the construction sector, which limited the extent of the economic downturn, it said. Refiner seen reporting 65 pct profit drop Hellenic Petroleum, Greece’s largest refiner, is expected to post a 65 percent decline in first-quarter net profit as a stronger dollar and falling oil prices weighed on results. Analysts polled by Reuters on average expect Hellenic to post a net income of 33.7 million euros, compared with 96.5 million euros in the previous year. Earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) are seen declining 35 percent to 91.3 million euros. Stripping out the effects of lower oil prices on the value of oil inventories, core profits – or adjusted «clean» EBITDA – are seen up 55 percent to 110.2 million euros on higher refining margins. «Foreign exchange and the lower valuation of oil inventories reduced reported net income but a widening of simple refining margins boosted core profitability,» said George Katsanos, an analyst at HSBC Pantelakis Securities. (Reuters) Short selling Greece’s securities regulator said it would allow the short selling of stocks as of June 1, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday. Short selling of securities listed on the Athens bourse will be subject to the uptick rule and a number of others, according to the e-mail. (Bloomberg) Recovery slow Eastern and Central Europe’s economic recovery will not be quick, with foreign capital continuing to be pulled out of the region, the chief economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said yesterday. EBRD Chief Economist Erik Berglof told Reuters that weak first-quarter gross domestic product data from regional economies, such as the Czech Republic and Hungary, showed some signs of stabilization. «These are very bad numbers, but we are seeing that the figures are not as dramatic as before. There is some stabilization and hope of a turning point,» he told Reuters television. But he warned that the region’s recovery would not be quick, identifying Latvia and Ukraine as countries where the impact of the financial crisis has been the most severe. «We’re in for the long haul.» (Reuters) Bank rally Finansbank AS, owned by the National Bank of Greece, rose the most in three months in Istanbul trading after reporting almost a fourfold increase in first-quarter profit. (Bloomberg)

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