ECONOMY

Retail sales rise for first time since October 2008

Moody’s Investors Service cut the ratings of five of the nine Greek banks it covers, citing the country’s deteriorating economy and its impact on the lenders’ profit figures. «In recent months, negative market sentiment toward Greece has further constrained the banks’ access to the bond and interbank markets,» Moody’s said. «Over the past year, Greek banks have increased their dependence on short-term market funding, as access to the wholesale capital markets has been limited due to the global financial crisis.» Moody’s downgraded National Bank to A2 from A1, EFG Eurobank, Alpha Bank and Emporiki to A3/Prime-2 from A2/Prime-1, and Piraeus Bank to Baa1/Prime-2 from A2/Prime-1. Moody’s maintained a negative outlook on the ratings of the five banks. Analysts said the news came as no surprise and that Standard & Poor’s ratings for some of the Greek banks were already several notches below Moody’s.