In Brief

Economy to contract in coming quarters Greece’s economy will contract on an annual basis for another two quarters before an expected recovery in Europe and the United States next year helps a rebound at home, the head of the National Statistical Service (NSS) said yesterday. Greece, which will hold national elections on October 4, is teetering near recession after years of robust growth, with the economy the centerpiece of the political debate as the downturn has swollen deficits and debt with unemployment on the rise. «The [annual] rate of growth in the next two quarters of 2009 will have a negative sign,» NSS chief Manolis Kontopyrakis told Reuters in an interview. He declined to say what the quarterly rates would be. «Based on current data, my forecast is that the rate of [economic] growth for the year as a whole will be negative but better than minus 1.0 percent,» he said. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the EU Commission see a recession this year, projecting declines in Greek output of 1.25 and 0.9 percent. The International Monetary Fund forecasts GDP will contract by 1.7 percent. Greece’s economy, about 2.5 percent of the eurozone, managed to expand slightly in the second quarter quarter-on-quarter after contracting in the previous three months, escaping a technical recession. Hit by the global downturn, Greece suffered its first contraction in 16 years in the three months to June year-on-year due to a slump in investment and weaker private consumption. (Reuters) Diana Shipping charters Panamax-class vessel Diana Shipping Inc, owner of vessels that transport iron ore and coal, agreed to charter a Panamax-class vessel for $17,000 a day for a minimum of 11 months. Diana will lease the Triton, built in 2001, to Intermare Transport GmbH beginning next month, the Athens-based company said in a statement yesterday on Globe Newswire. The agreement may last for as long as 13 months, Diana said. Spot rates for Panamax-class ships, which usually haul 75,000-ton cargoes and are the largest vessels able to travel through the Panama Canal, have fallen 34 percent in the past year to $18,480 a day, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. Diana said it expects to generate about $5.6 million in revenue from the charter. (Bloomberg) Interim dividend Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd, whose ships carry oil and refined products, will pay a semi-annual dividend of 30 cents per share, a 65 percent decrease from its last issuance. Tsakos will pay the dividend on October 29 for shareholders of record as of October 22, the Athens-based shipowner said. (Bloomberg) Lek depreciation The depreciation of the Albanian lek to the euro by up to 10 percent this year does not pose any problem for the economy because it had not affected prices, Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha said. In an interview with the Voice of America Albanian section in New York on Sunday, Berisha did not rule out that his recent comments about dropping the lek to adopt the euro could have had «a slight effect» on the lek approaching its all-time low against the euro last week. (Reuters)