ECONOMY

In Brief

Cyprus inflation stood at 1.6 percent in December Cyprus’s EU-harmonized inflation was running at 1.6 percent in December from 1.0 percent in November, the island’s statistics department said yesterday. Over the year, the harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) tracker was running at 0.2 percent, pushed down by lower fuel prices. It was the lowest annual rate of change on record, following a 4.4 percent HICP inflationary spike on high commodity and fuel prices in 2008. In 2009, the sharpest increases were recorded in healthcare costs, at 6.6 percent, followed by a 4.9 percent increase in education. The most pronounced drop was a 7.6 percent decline in fuel-related utility bills and transport costs at 7.3 percent. (Bloomberg) Duties may prompt slide in Petrol’s profit LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – Slovenia’s largest fuel retailer Petrol said yesterday its 2010 profit could be halved due to the government’s plans to raise excise duties on fuel. The company did not say what profit it referred to, but in December it had said it expected to reach group net profit of 43.2 million euros ($62.7 million) in 2010, up 6 percent from 2009 expected profit. «There is a serious possibility that the planned profit of Petrol would be halved,» Petrol said in a statement. It said that an increase of excise duties has already dented its fuel sales in the border areas. It said the government’s plan to raise excise duties further could lead to an additional fall in sales, along with higher inflation. «We are worried because fuel is becoming more expensive in Slovenia than in neighboring EU states, which has an impact on the competitiveness of the whole Slovenian economy, with Petrol being no exception,» it said. Turk protection Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was less affected by the global crisis than Greece, the USA and UK. Turkey’s success in dealing with the turmoil was down to the economic policies the government has implemented since it came to power seven years ago, Erdogan told lawmakers of his governing party in a speech in the parliament in Ankara yesterday. (Bloomberg) Rating cut Golden Ocean Group Ltd and Diana Shipping Inc were cut to «Arctic Sell» by Arctic Securities ASA, which said fleet growth will outstrip demand this year and share price gains will lose momentum. Analysts led by Martin Sommerseth Jaer in Oslo said capesize ships, which haul about 160,000 tons of cargo, will earn an average of $30,000 a day this year, while smaller panamaxes will make $18,300. Those represent declines of 30 percent and 5.2 percent compared with the London-based Baltic Exchange’s respective price assessments for the ships last year. (Bloomberg) Metals rebound Bosnia’s sole aluminum smelter said yesterday it expects an improved 2010 amid expanding demand and rising global prices, after posting a 30 percent decline in revenues and flat profit in 2009. «The global economic crisis strongly influenced our business results last year,» the management of Aluminij Mostar, the country’s top exporter, told Reuters in a statement. (Reuters)