ECONOMY

In Brief

Cyprus likely to see rebound in H2 2010 NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus is likely to see a rebound in growth in the second half of the year, though downside risks remain, Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said yesterday. «Technically, the recession in Cyprus ended in the first quarter with a marginal rate of growth,» Stavrakis said, when asked if he saw a double-dip recession ahead. «There is always a risk in the eurozone. Our aim is to gradually withdraw the stimulus package that helped the economy, but very carefully,» he said. Stavrakis said he expected Cyprus to see marginal economic growth this year. On Monday, a visiting team from the International Monetary Fund said it expected zero growth or a slight contraction in Cyprus’s gross domestic product this year before a pickup in 2011. The Mediterranean island, which represents 0.2 percent of the eurozone economy, emerged from recession with anemic 0.1 percent growth in the first quarter. «It appears the rebound will continue in the second half and accelerate in the second quarter,» Stavrakis told journalists. Pledge to speed up work on South Stream SOFIA (AFP) – Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov pledged yesterday to speed up work on Russia’s South Stream gas pipeline project, in a move to obtain cheaper gas deliveries. After talks here with Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom’s deputy chief executive, Borisov said the two countries had drafted «a road map» to accelerate work on the project, which is being built by the Russian gas giant and Italy’s ENI. «There are no open questions left [on South Stream] and in 2015 the pipeline should be a fact,» Borisov said. A preliminary project feasibility study and an environmental impact assessment were the first steps on the road map, to be signed next Thursday in Moscow, he added. Progress on the 900-kilometer (560-mile) South Stream pipeline from Russia to southern Europe has been stalled over haggling as to how Sofia and Moscow would split ownership of the new pipelines going through Bulgaria. Sofia’s previous center-left government always insisted on building new pipes for South Stream and sharing them 50-50 with Russia. But Borisov said yesterday the parties had agreed to use the current transit pipeline that already pumps Russian gas to Turkey and Greece. Toy sales Greece’s largest toy retailer, Jumbo, posted a 4.2 percent rise in full-year sales, with strong performance in Cyprus and Bulgaria more than offsetting losses in Greece. Jumbo said turnover for the year to end-June rose to 487 million euros ($653 million), beating its target for a 3 percent increase. «Cyprus demonstrated an excellent performance, as sales had double-digit growth,» the company said. «Regarding Bulgaria, the new store in Plovdiv contributes to sales growth.» Jumbo, which operates 45 stores in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria, said it was speeding up the opening of six new stores by December to offset expected turnover losses at home. Greek consumers are tightening their belts as the country implements austerity measures as part of a 110-billion-euro bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund to overcome its debt crisis and its first recession since 1993. Official data showed retail sales by volume dropped 5.8 percent year-on-year in April after 10 percent increase in March that was boosted by Easter shopping. Jumbo will release its full financial results in September. (Reuters) ICAP Research company and consultants ICAP has launched a new office in Cyprus, boosting its foreign presence to four countries, as part of plans for further geographical expansion, it said yesterday. After having expanded into Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, ICAP is now operating in the Cyprus capital Nicosia. The group employees 1,150 people, of whom 320 are based outside of Greece. Inflation Cyprus’s EU-harmonized inflation was 2.1 percent year-on-year in June, up from 1.8 percent in May, the country’s statistics department said yesterday. (Reuters)