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16 February, 2002
A surge in the annual inflation rate to 4.4 percent in January from 3.0 percent the previous month was the most significant economic news of the week under review.
The National Statistics Service attributed the sharp rise in the consumer price index to a big increase in cereals, fruit and vegetable prices and higher prices in tobacco, clothing and footwear.
Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, on Thursday, said he expected a gradual decline in the inflation rate from February and stressed that the government would increase its efforts to combat higher inflation. He said that higher prices was not just a Greek phenomenon as it was evident in other EU member-states.
The Greek market held its breath on Friday afternoon, a few hours before the end of a deadline in an international tender to privatize Olympic Airways, a procedure lasting more than a year now.
According to sources, IAS consortium, the last remaining bidder in the tender, has seemingly deposited a bank letter of guarantee, worth 102 million euros, amid talk that one of the three shareholders in the consortium withdrew from the scheme.
A report by International Herald Tribune on Friday said that Bank of Greece's governor Lucas Papademos was the favorite to take the post of European Central Bank's vice-governor, replacing Philipe Noyer, whose term ends on May 31.
Meanwhile, talk - neither confirmed or denied - of an approach between National Bank and Piraeus Bank came to surface this week. National Bank announced improved figures in its mortgage and consumer loans portfolio and said that its credit card active holders exceeded 3,200,000 in 2001.
Money supply growth accelerated slightly in November, with credit expansion growth running at 16.6 percent from 16.4 percent in October. The Bank of Greece said that credit expansion totalled 17 billion euros, of which 12.3 billion euros accounted for money spent by businesses and households.
Russia's second largest oil company, Yuko Oil, this week announced it was withdrawing from a tender to acquire a 23 percent equity stake in Hellenic Petroleum. The other two candidates are a consortium between Latsis Group and Lukoil, and Austria's OMV.
Greece's mutual funds' assets fell by 5.51 percent this year to 25.31 billion euros, from 26.79 billion at the end of December 2001.
A new round of talks aimed to reform the country's social security system will begin at the end of March, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said in the week.
Greek investors own 76.14 percent of the Athens Stock Exchange's total capitalization or 75.22 billion euros, leaving the remaining 23.86 percent to the hands of foreign investors.
Source: Athens News Agency