ECONOMY

In Brief

Household credit growth slows to 2.7 percent annually Greek household borrowing weakened further in February, slowing to a 2.7 percent annual pace with the economy seen in recession for a second year, the country’s central bank said. Credit to households grew at an annual 2.9 percent in January, Bank of Greece figures showed. The pace of loan growth was significantly lower than the 12.8 percent pace in December 2008. The combination of recession and tighter credit conditions is eating into the loan growth that fueled consumption and economic expansion in Greece in previous years. Greek GDP contracted by 2 percent last year and is seen shrinking by as much in 2010 as well, the country’s central bank said earlier this week. The Bank of Greece said household loan balances grew by 117 million euros to 120 billion euros in February. Mortgages grew 3.6 percent, the same as in the previous month, with 165 million euros in new loans, versus an 11.5 percent rate in December 2008. (Reuters) Underwriter says Alma Maritime IPO is shelved NEW YORK (Reuters) – Crude oil and dry-bulk shipper Alma Maritime Ltd yesterday postponed indefinitely its initial public offering due to «market conditions,» according to an underwriter. Athens-based Alma had planned to raise about $225 million by selling 11.25 million shares for $19 to $21 each. The company does not currently own any ships but said it had agreements to purchase one dry-bulk carrier and six tankers. It planned to do business based on short-, medium- and long-term charters, including spot charters. Alma said in its prospectus it would pay ongoing management fees to Empire Navigation Inc. It estimated it would pay a total of about $3.1 million to Empire Navigation in 2010. Cyprus sentiment Cyprus’s economic sentiment fell in March due to a deteriorating outlook in the services sector, a publicly funded survey said yesterday. The economic sentiment indicator fell 6.1 points from February to 62.2 points. This dip stems from the negative estimates by businesses in terms of demand for their services offered over the past three months and projections for demand in the coming quarter, the survey by the Economics Research Center of the University of Cyprus said. (Reuters) Romania intervention Romania’s leu fell 0.3 percent against the euro yesterday as dealers said the central bank intervened covertly in the market to curb the currency, which hit 14-month highs this week. Central bank spokesman Mugur Stet declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. Earlier this month, central bank Governor Mugur Isarescu said he was concerned the leu would firm too much, raising expectations for covert interventions in the market. A strong currency could pressure exporters and hinder an expected economic recovery this year, after gross domestic product plunged 7.1 percent in 2009, analysts said. (Reuters) Arcelik-Sony Turkey’s leading white goods maker Arcelik said yesterday it had signed a one-year agreement with Sony United Kingdom Limited for the production of LCD televisions. The Turkish firm said the deal would increase Arcelik’s current production of LCD TVs for Sony «by an important amount.» (Reuters)