In Brief

Home prices fall 2.6 pct annually in first quarter Residential apartment prices in Greece fell 2.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with downward price pressures from last year continuing because of the recession, the country’s central bank said yesterday. The Bank of Greece launched a real estate price index last year to better measure the course of property prices and help cover the need for a credible benchmark. Although property accounts for one-fourth of total investment in Greece and 82 percent of household wealth, there was no widely accepted benchmark to systematically monitor real estate prices. The data showed that price pressures were more pronounced for older apartments, defined as those aged more than five years, where the drop reached 4 percent on average, the central bank said. Prices fell more in Greece’s second-largest city Thessaloniki, down 3.6 percent, compared to Athens where the fall was 2 percent. (Reuters) March credit growth slows to 5.2 percent Greece’s total credit expansion decelerated to a 5.2 percent annual pace in March from 7.2 percent in February, Bank of Greece provisional data showed yesterday. Credit extended to business and households in March grew by an annual 3.5 percent clip compared to 3.9 percent in the previous month. Giada Gianni, a Citigroup economist, commented that «the slowdown in credit growth is consistent with the trend of the last two months. The liquidity of the banking system which been deteriorating since the start of the year and the recession is also limiting demand for credit.» (Reuters) THY strike Turkish Airlines said yesterday it had been notified of a move by union members to strike over wages and working hours, triggering fresh losses in the shares of Europe’s fourth-largest airline. However, a strike was not imminent as notification of the strike decision by the Hava Is union will initiate a 60-day period of talks. Employees must give six days notice before striking, according to Turkish law. Shares in the flag carrier fell 3.8 percent to 4.04 lira by early afternoon yesterday, bringing two-day losses to 7.7 percent, underperforming the main share index, which was down 1.4 percent. (Reuters) Petrom cap hike Romanian oil and gas group Petrom sees good investor demand for a planned 600-million-euro capital hike to ensure funds to maintain its investment program, its chief executive said. Romania’s largest company is aiming to invest more than 1 billion euros per year until 2015 to increase the recovery rate of its existing fields and boost exploration and would also consider more investments in renewable energy like wind power. «The results of last year as well as the strategy, the investment program… I think give prospects for the interest of investors. We’ll have to see, but I think we have a good story,» the group’s chief executive, Mariana Gheorghe, told Reuters in an interview. (Reuters) Turk plant sale The acting chairman of Turkey’s Privatization Administration (OIB), Ahmet Aksu, said yesterday the country may complete the sale of power plants with a total capacity of 16,000 megawatts within one to two years. Aksu told Reuters in an interview the OIB expects to see a change in legislation to enable transfer of coal fields to private sector firms. OIB is also to invite bids for a betting unit of the National Lottery as soon as a model is decided for its sale, Aksu added. The OIB is looking at options to privatize the National Lottery’s Sans Oyunlari unit, which includes various popular betting games such as Spor Toto and Sayisal Loto, and bids would be invited as soon as the best sale model is decided, he said. Turkey was unable to sell the National Lottery last year because the minimum price set of $1.62 billion proved sharply higher than what the bidders, including Greek betting firm OPAP, were prepared to pay. (Reuters)

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