ECONOMY

In Brief

Construction down 20.5 pct year-on-year in July Greek construction activity, measured by the number of new building permits, fell 20.5 percent year-on-year in July, showing no sign of recovery in the hard-hit sector. Construction, a key driver for Greece’s economy, dropped 14.2 percent last year, contributing to the country’s first recession since 1993. Data released yesterday by statistics agency ELSTAT showed building permits fell 10.8 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2010. Data on volume and surface space being built showed respective drops of 25.8 and 21.2 percent in the same period. The statistics service said 5,184 new permits were issued nationwide in July, corresponding to 1.02 million square meters, compared to 6,519 permits in the same month a year earlier, covering 1.49 million square meters. ELSTAT added that Greek industrial output fell 2.1 percent year-on-year in August with manufacturing production shrinking 3.9 percent. (Reuters) Intralot wins online betting provider license in France Intralot, the world’s second-largest lottery systems provider, said it won a license to offer online sports betting in France, seizing another chance to benefit from world gambling liberalization. Intralot offers gaming platforms and operates sports betting and video lotto machines, online casinos and poker games in about 50 countries. In recent years, it has expanded aggressively outside its home market to benefit from the deregulation of gaming markets across the world. The company said yesterday the license is for five years with an option to be extended. It did not disclose the price it paid for the license. CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos said in a statement the new license was «a very important step toward the implementation of our plans to capitalize on the major opportunity represented by the growth of the regulated European online gaming sector.» (Reuters) Cyprus eurobond Cyprus plans to issue up to 1 billion euros in foreign-listed eurobonds, likely at the end of October, the director of its public debt management office said yesterday. Phaedon Kalozois told Reuters the Bank of Cyprus, Barclays and Societe Generale had been mandated as managers of the issue last week. «The amount will be a benchmark size of about 1 billion [euros], and this is expected at the end of October,» he said. The exact size of the issue depended on market conditions, he said. The issue will be Cyprus’s second foray onto international markets to raise cash in the past 12 months, and the third in the past 18 months. It raised 1.0 billion euros on international markets in February with a 10-year eurobond. Asked about the maturity of the October issue, Kalozois said, «That is subject to demand and market conditions, but we estimate the most likely to be five years.» (Reuters) Turkey discipline Turkey’s government yesterday pledged its commitment to fiscal discipline after cutting its budget deficit projections and raising its economist growth forecasts, sending the stock market to a record high. The new forecasts, released on Sunday, came after the government was criticized by the International Monetary Fund, among others, for shelving legislation earlier this year that would have set benchmarks for budget deficits and borrowing. That prompted concerns the government could embark on a spending spree in 2011, an election year. «Nobody can say that this program is an election program. It shows the government will stick to fiscal discipline before elections,» Economy Minister Ali Babacan told a press conference yesterday. He was presenting an economic program for 2011-13 that was first unveiled on Sunday. (Reuters) Romania inflation Romania’s annual inflation rose to 7.8 percent in September, from August’s 7.6 percent, higher than market expectations, data showed yesterday. The country’s trade deficit in the first eight months of the year widened by 1.9 percent from the previous year to 6.1 billion euros. In August, the trade shortfall was 594 million euros, the National Statistics Board (INS) said. (Reuters)