ECONOMY

In Brief

Dryships plans to sell shares for new drillships DryShips Inc said its offshore drilling unit Ocean Rig plans to sell shares worth about $500 million to finance building new drillships, reducing the parent’s stake by about a fifth, sending shares up 7 percent. The Greek dry-bulk shipper and deepwater driller may also look at using the proceeds, through the private placement of shares, to exercise options to build more drillships. DryShips recently secured options to build four new rigs, with each likely to cost about $600 million. The company, which said on Thursday it signed a commitment letter for a $325 million bridge loan facility to fund one of its drillships, expects the share offer to close in December. It currently has four new rigs under construction. Shares of the company, up 19 percent in last three months, rose 9 percent in early morning trade yesterday to $5.70. (Reuters) ECB buys Irish and Portuguese bonds The European Central Bank bought Irish government bonds yesterday, according to four traders with knowledge of the transactions. The ECB also purchased Portuguese debt, said three of the people, who asked not to be identified because the deals are confidential. An ECB spokesman in Frankfurt declined to comment. The Central Bank also bought Irish and Portuguese securities yesterday, according to traders. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said then that the government bond-buying program was ongoing. «The timing for these reported bond purchases is perfect,» said Peter Chatwell, a fixed-income strategist at Credit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank in London. «The ECB is buying in an extremely illiquid year-end market. Its purchases are always going to move the market in a big way. It remains to be seen what the ECB will do into the new year when the market is liquid again.» The extra yield investors demand to hold 10-year Portuguese bonds instead of benchmark German bunds narrowed to less than three percentage points, or 300 basis points, for the first time since August 24, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Irish 10-year bonds rose, pushing the 10-year yield down 34 basis points to 8.41 percent. The Portuguese yield slid 27 basis points to 6.03 percent. (Bloomberg) Euro credible The European Central Bank’s chief says the euro remains «credible» despite the debt crisis that has required the bailouts of Ireland and Greece and raised worries about the future of the shared currency. A day after the ECB extended its special support measures for banks, Jean-Claude Trichet yesterday urged European governments to make a «quantum leap» toward reforming and cleaning up budgets to avoid falling deeper into turmoil. Speaking in Paris, he said, «This is no time for complacency.» The Spanish government, determined to avoid seeking a rescue of its own, approved a new austerity plan yesterday that will cut back a key jobless benefit and sell off stakes in the national lottery and airports. The ECB, the European Union and the 16 governments that share the euro are struggling to contain a crisis caused by too much state debt in some countries. (AP) Binding bids Public Power Corporation SA said five companies submitted binding offers at «competitive prices» for liquefied nitrogen gas cargo shipments in the first quarter of next year, according to an Athens bourse filing. This will lead to «saving on the fuel cost» for Greece’s biggest electricity producer, the filing said. (Bloomberg) Retiring sooner Bucking a global trend, leftist-led Bolivia is lowering its retirement age and nationalizing its pension funds. Bolivia’s Congress approved legislation early yesterday to make Bolivians eligible for full pensions at age 58. The country’s 70,000 miners will get to retire two years earlier. The previous retirement age was 65 for men and 60 for women. Bolivia’s decision to lower its retirement age runs counter to a global trend to raise retirement ages as life expectancies rise, birthrates drop and national treasuries come under strain from pension obligations. (AP)