ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek stocks rise 1 pct as banks outperform Late selling on the Athens bourse trimmed expectations yesterday but the market managed to hang onto gains of more than 1 percent due to advancing banks. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index rose 1.02 percent to 1,573.08 points. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index added 1.20 percent to end at 767.94 points, as banks moved ahead 2.30 percent. National Bank jumped 2.22 percent to 8.28 euros, bringing gains in the last 30 days to just over 10 percent. Alpha Bank rose 2.76 percent to 5.22 euros and Eurobank EFG headed 3.81 percent higher to 4.90 euros. OTE telecom dipped 1.74 percent to 5.65 euros and power company PPC ended at 12.68 euros, up 1.36 percent. Turnover reached 123.1 million euros. Bulgarian nuclear plant repairs may limit exports SOFIA (Reuters) – Annual repairs to a reactor at Bulgaria’s only nuclear power plant, in Kozloduy, will be delayed due to faulty equipment, which may limit power exports, the Economy and Energy Ministry said yesterday. The plant shut down one of its 1,000-megawatt reactors in September for maintenance and refueling and had planned to finish repairs by the end of October but reconnecting to the grid was now expected to take place in four weeks’ time. «The fault reported by nuclear power plant Kozloduy does not pose any threat to people’s health,» Economy and Energy Minister Traicho Traikov told reporters. «Luckily, it does not pose a serious threat to the health of the electricity system either.» To secure the stability of its power supplies, Bulgaria will limit exports, raise electricity output at its hydropower plants and will use its cold reserves, Traikov said. EU sanctions European governments left decisions to sanction euro-area budget violators in political hands, stopping short of the more automatic crackdown on runaway deficits demanded by the European Central Bank (ECB). Germany, which had pushed for «quasi-automatic» sanctions and threatened to expel chronic high-deficit countries from the euro region, shifted its stance yesterday to embrace French calls to require at least two votes by euro-area governments before penalties are imposed. «European politicians have forgone a historic opportunity to reform the fiscal framework in one fell swoop,» said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING Group NV in Brussels. «The German-French compromise could eventually still deliver a decent framework in the future but, for the time being, we only got a piecemeal reform, vulnerable to further watering down.» As the euro rises and bond yields in Greece and Spain slip from the highs reached after the debt shock earlier this year, pressure to fix the management of the $12 trillion economy has eased, weakening the drive by Germany and ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet for tougher enforcement of fiscal rules. «I’m a little bit surprised that we did not have the full 100 percent backing for fiscal discipline from Germany,» Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg told reporters on the second day of the European Union meetings in Luxembourg. (Bloomberg) Cyprus airlines Cyprus’s state-owned Eurocypria Airlines will cease operations by mid-November before a government-proposed merger with Cyprus Airways, Costas Iacovou, Eurocypria’s executive chairman, said. «We will wind up our operations by completing the summer season flight program and then transfer all assets to Cyprus Airways,» Iacovou said in a telephone interview yesterday in Nicosia. «The way the merger will happen, which must be first approved by the European Commission, has not yet been decided.» Finance Minister Charilaos Stavrakis said September 3 – less than seven months after parliament approved a 35-million-euro ($48.7 million) capital increase at Eurocypria – that the two carriers would merge to prevent their bankruptcy. Eurocypria, founded in 1991, was bought out by the state in 2006 for 22.9 million euros as part of a rescue plan for its then parent, Cyprus Airways. The 70 percent state-owned carrier reported in August that its first-half loss widened to 25.5 million euros, from a 3.5-million-euro loss a year earlier. (Bloomberg)