ECONOMY

In Brief

Growth of Greek-flagged fleet slows in July The Greek-flagged merchant marine fleet, the world’s fifth-largest, expanded at a slower annual rate, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said yesterday. Vessel numbers grew 0.3 percent to 2,118 in the year to July 31 compared with growth of 1.4 percent in the same period a year earlier. The fleet’s total gross tonnage, a measure of a ship’s total volume, increased by 3.3 percent in that period to just under 43 million tons, the Athens-based authority said in a statement on its website. The number of tankers in the fleet rose 0.5 percent and the vessels’ gross tonnage increased 4.3 percent, reflecting larger ships. The number of dry-bulk ships, which carry commodities such as coal, fell 2.8 percent while their gross tonnage rose 2.3 percent, according to the statement. The Greek-owned fleet, which includes vessels owned by Greeks but flying a different flag, is the second-largest in the world after China. (Bloomberg) Greece to auction 300 mln euros of T-bills next week Greece will auction a total of 300 million euros ($394 million) of 13-week Treasury bills on Tuesday, the country’s debt agency PDMA said yesterday. Greece kicked off a plan of monthly sales of short-term debt earlier this week, switching from quarterly sales, seeking to improve cash management as it struggles to emerge from its debt crisis. It sold 1.17 billion euros of six-month T-bills at an average yield of 4.82 percent on September 14. PDMA said the settlement date for the three-month T-bill auction will be Friday. Only primary dealers will be allowed to participate and no commission will be paid. The T-bills will not be sold into a roll-over. A previous 2.4-billion-euro issue of three-month T-bills, auctioned in July at a yield of 4.05 percent, comes due on October 22. PDMA said noncompetitive bids up to an additional 30 percent of the auctioned amount may be submitted until September 23. (Reuters) Tax revenues Cyprus’s direct tax revenue from January to August fell an annual 1 percent to 1.1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) mainly on decreased income from corporate taxes, the Inland Revenue Department said. Income from corporate taxes fell 15 percent annually to 316.5 million euros, causing a 54.7-million-euro shortfall on targets for the period, according to a statement yesterday on the IRD’s website. This «was counter to our expectations,» Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said. The Finance Ministry of the euro area’s second-smallest economy forecast 1.9 million euros in direct tax revenue for 2010. (Bloomberg) Russian-Cypriot pact Russia and Cyprus will sign a double-taxation agreement before Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits the island in early October, Russian Deputy Economy Minister Igor Manylov said. «The Russian government ordered our ministers to sign the act, which was a final decision» that does not require approval by the Russian Parliament, Manylov said in an interview in Nicosia on Thursday. Russia placed Cyprus on a blacklist more than two years ago because of an alleged failure by the east Mediterranean island to provide its tax authorities with information. It came after Russia introduced tax exemptions on repatriating dividends from companies domiciled abroad. The new agreement will allow Russian companies to increase investment flows into Cyprus, its finance minister, Charilaos Stavrakis, said yesterday. In 2008, direct investment in Cyprus by Russians was 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion), Antonis Paschalides, the minister of commerce, industry and tourism for Cyprus, said on September 13. (Bloomberg) Irish spread The premium investors demand to hold Irish 10-year government bonds rather than benchmark German bunds rose to a euro lifetime high yesterday ahead of next week’s supply and persistent concerns about the banking sector. The Irish 10-year bond yield climbed about 11 basis points on the day to four-month highs of 6.390 percent, driving the spread over German bunds to 394 bps, a fresh high, up more than 10 bps on the day. Bund futures hit a session high at 129.66, up 28 ticks on the day. (Reuters)