Welcome, 77 artists, 40 different points of Attica welcomes you by singing Erotokritos an epic romance written at 1713 by Vitsentzos Kornaros

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Greek Mining Company Receiving Incompatible State Aid

An investigation by the European Commission has revealed that the Greek Larco General Mining and Metallurgical Company S.A. (Larco) was receiving 136 million euros in state aid, violating the European state aid rules. The Commission has ...


Greek bill gives rescue fund legal cover for bank capital boosts

Under the proposed legislation, the HFSF can give its green light to new share offerings by the banks ... which needs to cover a 2.945 billion euro capital shortfall that the central bank's stress test revealed this month. Eurobank, 95 percent ...


BoG Data: Cash Flow in Greek Economy Down 4%

The recovery of the Greek economy may be around the corner, but the country’s banks still seem to be tightening credit, thus draining Greek


Europe's economic crisis is getting worse not better, says Caritas report

Survey shows increase in the number of new poor in seven countries and challenges the official European Union discourse

Far from being over Europe's economic crisis is getting worse with disturbing levels of poverty and deprivation being noted among children and youth, says a report compiled by the Catholic charity Caritas.

The survey, conducted over the course of the past year, not only challenges the official discourse – that Europe is on the mend – but documents a dramatic poor in the seven EU countries worst hit by the policies of austerity.

"We in Brussels keep hearing that the economic crisis is over," Thorfinnur Omarsson, a spokesman for Caritas Europa said in Athens where the network of Catholic relief organisations released the report. "These findings not only doubt that the crisis is over but show it is the poor who are paying for a crisis they did not cause."

The 114-page inquiry into the human cost of the crisis focuses on Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain. In all of these countries, it claims, there is deepening inequality with growing numbers suffering from poverty and social exclusion. In Ireland – depicted as the poster child for austerity – income inequality soared between 2009 and 2010 with the top 20% earning five times more than the bottom 20%

In Cyprus – the last country to be rescued by the EU and IMF when its banking system came close to collapse last March – poverty levels among older people have more than doubled in the past year. At 29.3% the Mediterranean island now has the worst rate of poverty among citizens aged over 65 in the 28-nation bloc.

"More and more Cypriots are coming to get food and support," says Michael Hadjiroussos, a Caritas volunteer. "I've seen people arguing over spending €2 on a coffee. Not that long ago we were prosperous. A situation has emerged that not even those who predicted the crisis would have foreseen."

In Greece, where Europe's debt crisis erupted in late 2009, people have watched helplessly as ever more austerity has been imposed in pursuit of a remedy that even today remained elusive, the report said. "On the contrary, the medicine that sought to cure the disease is killing the patient,"it said. As a result, it argues, the country's political scene has become increasingly toxic "with despair leading to support for extreme right-wing parties, who are nostalgic about fascist ideologies, a crisis that also has the potential to undermine all the institutions that Europe has worked hard to establish."

It is the emergence, however, of a new poor – especially young graduates attempting to enter the labour market – that the network claims is one of the most troubling side-effects of the crisis.

In Portugal, Spain and Greece there has been a dramatic rise in youth unemployment with people, who would not usually consider themselves poor, having to turn to charities for support. An entire generation, it predicted, faced the prospect of poverty in older age.

"What we are seeing is growing inequality and the appearance of a whole class of new poor," said Artur Benedyktowicz who oversees social policy at Caritas. "It's an increase that is not tracked by statistical agencies because very often these people are too ashamed to ask for social benefits but they come to us because we are there on the ground."

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IMF offers Ukraine bailout as Yulia Tymoshenko enters presidential race

Whoever wins election on 25 May will face tough task of enforcing harsh austerity measures in return for $18bn aid

Ukraine's controversial opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has formally joined the race to become president, on the same day as the huge task facing the new leadership was underscored by a tough IMF aid package that will foist deep austerity on the country.

Tymoshenko, the gas tycoon turned Orange revolution leader who ended up in jail under the previous regime only to be released into the euphoria of the Maidan protests, pledged to represent both halves of the fractured country.

"I will be the candidate of Ukrainian unity," the 53-year-old said. "The west and centre of Ukraine has always voted for me, but I was born in the east, in Dnipropetrovsk."

But it remains unclear how popular Tymoshenko is, and whether she can appeal to both the nationalists in the west and the pro-Russian elements in the east. The latest opinion polls on the presidential race show oligarch Petro Poroshenko, known as the "chocolate king", and former heavyweight boxer Vitaly Klitschko in first and second place, respectively, well ahead of Tymoshenko.

Whoever wins the vote on 25 May will face a tough task. The International Monetary Fund on Thursday offered a bailout of up to bn (£10.9bn) over two years, in return for harsh economic reforms that may well worsen living standards for the already impoverished population. Further IMF aid will be unlocked if austerity measures are passed, including a sharp rise in the cost of domestic energy. In a first vote on Thursday night, the Ukrainian parliament approved a law required for the IMF bailout.

In explaining why the the IMF conditions had been accepted, the prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, told parliament Ukraine was on the edge of bankruptcy and its economy could shrink by up to 10% this year without austerity measures. With the measures in place, GDP would only contract by 3%, he predicted.

When he started the job last month, Yatseniuk called his government a "kamikaze" one because of the painful reforms it would undertake. The IMF conditions are sure to further erode the political support for Yatseniuk and Tymoshenko, although experts differ as to how much.

Apart from the hike of up to 50% percent in the price of gas for consumers, Ukraine's state-controlled natural gas provider announced a 40% gas price increase for local heating companies, starting on 1 July. The government also accepted a flexible exchange rate for its currency, the hryvnia, that has been fuelling inflation. An inflation rate of 12-14% is being predicted for the year.

Sergei Kiselyov, an economics expert from the school of political analysis at the Kiev-Mohilyanskaya Academy, said inflation and higher gas rates for heating companies would "hit a lot harder" than the hike in consumer gas prices, which average only 7.5 hryvnia (38p) per person per month. The average person pays 200 hryvnia per month to heat a 50 sq metre apartment, but this will rise to 280 hryvnia. The average monthly wage is 3,148 hryvnia, more than half of which goes towards food.

Combined with the rising prices of imported products, this would cause people's purchasing power and economic position to fall, Kiselyov said.

"I don't think half the population will live below the poverty line but the majority of the population will be worse off economically, that's understood," he said.

According to Vasily Koltashov, an economist at the Institute of Globalisation and Social Movements in Moscow, the IMF's austerity measures were harsher than those implemented in Portugal and Greece. They were "aimed at placing all consequences of the Ukrainian economic crisis on the shoulders of the Ukrainian people," he said. "But Ukrainians differ from the Portuguese and the Greeks because they don't have many savings left. Wages now in Ukraine are, as a rule, not enough to feed a family, and the devaluation of the hryvnia will make it totally impossible."

The worsening economic situation would lead to greater social unrest and could even result in parts of southern and eastern Ukraine following Crimea's example and moving to join Russia, Koltashov said. "People won't fall into depression, they'll resist … and this may take on a pro-Russian tone, not because Russia is good and is calling them to do it, but because people see Crimea joining Russia as a way to jump off a burning train, to get out of the Ukrainian crisis."

Russia's economic backlash

Russia is also feeling the economic crunch of the Ukraine crisis and its takeover of Crimea, with wealth leaching from the country at a rate rarely seen before.

The economic development minister, Alexei Ulyukayev, said on Thursday that capital flight amounted to $60bn in the first quarter and would likely reach at least $100bn by the end of the year, up from $62bn last year. As a result, GDP growth would shrink even further to 0.6% and investments would drop to -1.3%, he predicted.

Also on Thursday, S&P changed the outlook on the credit ratings of the Russian state-controlled oil and gas companies Gazprom, Lukoil, Rosneft and Transneft from "stable" to "negative".

The economic slump has yet to affect Vladimir Putin's approval rating, however. The latest poll showed 82.3% of Russians thought he was doing a good job. Putin's rating has risen by more than 20% since the start of the year.

UkraineEuropeInternational Monetary Fund (IMF)EconomicsYulia TymoshenkoAlec © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Governor, mayor speak at Dover Greek celebration

For more information about Greek Independence Day or the Dover Greek Festival, please contact Periklis Karoutas at or at 603-799-6563.


Two cases pending over alleged rape of girl, 5, in Greek mosque

Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou (photo) revealed on Thursday that there are two judicial cases pending regarding allegations that a 5-year-old girl was raped in a mosque in the village of Glafki, near Xanthi in northeastern Greece. Responding to a ... ...


Melina Mercouri honored 20 years after her death

It’s been 20 years since she died, yet Melina Mercouri (October 18, 1920 - March 6, 1994), the charismatic actress, chanteuse, activist and politician, still has a strong presence in Greece. To mark the anniversary of her death, the Benaki Museum’s Pireos... ...


More homes lack heating

More than one in four Greeks lived in homes that were inadequately heated in 2012, according to figures published by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) yesterday. The data show there has been a considerable increase in the proportion of Greeks wh... ...


Gripes about civil service rose 26 percent last year

There was a 26 percent rise in the number of Greeks complaining about the country’s public administration last year compared to 2012, according to the annual report compiled by the Ombudsman. A total of 14,738 complaints were made in 2013, which is also 3... ...


Kammenos alleges SDOE may have blackmailed MPs

Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos, who saw two of his MPs quit the anti-bailout party this week, accused the government on Thursday of using the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) to exercise influence over his lawmakers. Speaking to ANT1 TV, Kammenos c... ...


TPG in advanced talks to invest in yogurt maker Chobani: NYT

(Reuters) - Private equity firm TPG Capital LP is in advanced talks to invest in Chobani LLC, a maker of Greek yogurt, the New York Times reported on its website on Thursday, citing two unidentified people briefed on the matter.


Greeks Prefer Online Shopping

While traditional retailers all over Greece are suffering significant losses, the vast majority of Greek shoppers turn to on-line shopping. According to


Major Greek Football Club Aris Relegated to Second Division

  Just a day after celebrating its 100th anniversary, Aris, one of Greece’s best-known football clubs, has been relegated to the second division for only


Yasou! Greece Is Pulling Off an Amazing Recovery

Bloomberg reports that Greece in the next few weeks will begin tenders for a 750 million-euro airport project on the island of Crete and a 400 million-euro highway between Corinth and Patras, and aims to complete a high-speed rail network by the ...


Greece in line for 8.3 bln bailout tranche, sources say

Greece is set to receive a commitment from euro-region authorities as soon as mid-April for a payment of 8.3 billion euros in the next step in the country’s aid program, three officials familiar with the negotiations said. Deputies to finance ministers ar... ...


Cyprus axes police chief after protesters gatecrash peace event

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus's president fired the island's police chief on Thursday, accusing him of incompetence after Greek Cypriot activists disrupted an event involving a leading figure in the Turkish Cypriot community.


Greece Suffers Most Flu-Related Deaths

According to data by the European Center for Disease Prevention (ECDC), released by the Athens Medical Association, in 2014, Greece has the highest rate of flu-related deaths in Europe. As reported 106 people had died by Saturday, March 22, in ...


Greece Said to Be in Line for 8.3 Billion-Euro Rescue Payment

Greece is set to receive a commitment from euro-region authorities as soon as mid-April for a payment of 8.3 billion euros ($11.4 billion) in the next step in the country’s aid program, three officials familiar with the negotiations said.


Former KKTC leader attacked in Greek Cyprus, Eroğlu says worried

Far-right protesters in Greek Cyprus attacked former Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat when he was attending a conference on the Greek side of the island on Wednesday, an incident that incumbent Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu called ...


Dubai World Cup: Ron the Greek has work cut out for him

Good luck seems to have deserted Ron the Greek in advance of world-class races in recent months. Back in November, Ron the Greek missed the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita after a quarter crack surfaced days before the race. He was ...


Greek Taxpayers to be Fined for Payment Delays

The General Secretariat of Public Revenues reported that 962 million euros of overdue debt obligations to the State were accrued in ... According to the new tax system launched on January 1, 2014, if a tax is not paid on time, the next day ...


In season: Greek yogurt

In season: Greek yogurtMadison.comHow it's made: “In traditional Greek yogurt-making, they take the yogurt mass and they strain the whey out of it, to condense it so the protein count is higher,” Frank said. “Essentially to strain out the liquids. That's sort of the definition of Greek ...


Greek Anarchists Push Out Drug Dealers

Greek police said they believe that anarchists dragged drug dealers out of the neighborhood of Exarchia that is a hotbed of leftist movements.

The post Greek Anarchists Push Out Drug Dealers appeared first on The National Herald.


Greece Plans Free Wi-Fi For All

Free Internet access will be available for all in Greece later this year through 4,000 Wi-Fi points in open and closed public spaces.

The post Greece Plans Free Wi-Fi For All appeared first on The National Herald.


Eyewitness: Lake Kerkini, Greece

Photographs from the Guardian Eyewitness series


Greece should get more aid from IMF after board review

Greece should get more aid from IMF after board reviewReuters"Because some of the review has been delayed, there's going to be a rephasing of disbursements to Greece," IMF spokesman Bill Murray told reporters on Thursday. "I assume it will be higher because there were gaps between reviews." (Reporting by Anna ...and more »


Growing Numbers of Bulgarian Pensioners Visit Greece

Novinite.comGrowing Numbers of Bulgarian Pensioners Visit GreeceNovinite.comA survey of Bulgaria's Darik national radio among tourist agencies found that this spring Greece and Turkey are more preferred by Bulgarians above middle age. According to representatives of the tourist agencies, the prices are relatively low and ...and more »


Tension in Greek Jails

  According to a Ministry of Justice official, the Greek authorities are investigating whether the murder of the prison guard, Giorgos Tsironis,


Greece: come back Cleisthenes, all is forgiven

Since Cleisthenes, too many Greek politicians believe that some time away from ... was finance minister in 2009, when the New Democracy government lost control of Greece’s public finances. Here’s a reminder of what happened during his watch.


Gerontopoulos Meets with Greek-Australian Entrepreneurs

where he was guided and briefed by the professors and spoke with students learning Greek there. He also participated in a joint event for the raising of the Greek flag in the municipalities of Kogarah and Hurstville.


Cyprus Police Break Up Extremist Protest

Three people were arrested as a Greek Cypriot far-right group protested a former leader of the ethnically split island's breakaway Turkish Cypriots.

The post Cyprus Police Break Up Extremist Protest appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek Ministers Warn Euro Exit Over Milk Fight

Greek ministers have warned that unless Parliament passes a multi-bill agreed with international lenders that Greece could be pushed out of the Eurozone.

The post Greek Ministers Warn Euro Exit Over Milk Fight appeared first on The National Herald.


Olympiakos Falls to Asteras, 2-1

Mauricio Carrasco scored in extra time as Olympiakos lost 2-1 to Asteras, a week after a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League.

The post Olympiakos Falls to Asteras, 2-1 appeared first on The National Herald.


UN Envoy Sees Hope For Cyprus

The outgoing UN's envoy to ethnically split Cyprus says the country's economic problems could bolster chances of a long-elusive peace accord.

The post UN Envoy Sees Hope For Cyprus appeared first on The National Herald.


Greek Unions Set April 9 Strike

Greece's largest public sector union says it will join a private sector union in a nationwide general strike April 9 to protest austerity measures.

The post Greek Unions Set April 9 Strike appeared first on The National Herald.


Greece set to approve China-backed bid

The €10bn plan to develop site of former Athens international airport into marinas, hotels and shopping malls is seen as key to turning around economy


Commission rejects Greek mining aid, investigates aid for Italian trains

Greek public support to Larco General Mining violated EU rules, Trenitalia under investigation over fasset transfers.


Governor helps Dover Greek community celebration

DOVER — Dozens from the Dover Greek Community, members of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Dover, and several elected officials, including Gov. Maggie Hassan and Dover Mayor Karen Weston, recently gathered at Dover City Hall for a ...


Throwback Thursday: On holiday in the 1970s

We asked you to show us your retro holiday snaps to capture how things have changed for holidaymakers over the years. Last week we looked at the 60s. This week it's the 70s - with photos of Greek ferry trips, a day out at Warwick castle and lots of flares.

We want to see your holiday snaps from the 80s and 90s. Click here to submit them for next week's gallery


Greek unions to hold general strike on April 9 to protest latest austerity measures

by  Associated Press Greek unions to hold general strike on April 9 Associated Press - 27 March 2014 08:15-04:00

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's largest public sector union says it will join a nationwide general strike April 9 to protest austerity measures. The move means that the walkout will affect all private and public sector services.

The ADEDY union said Thursday it was joining the strike call issued by the GSEE union a few days ago.

ADEDY said it was also organizing a demonstration outside Parliament on the day lawmakers vote on a new bill legislating the latest measures agreed to between Greece and its international lenders. The bill, which has not yet been submitted to Parliament, is expected to be voted on Sunday night.

Athens agreed on the measures last week. But some of them have raised serious objections from lawmakers inside the two-party governing coalition.

News Topics: Business, General news, Financial crisis, Labor unions, Bills, Economy, Financial markets, Labor issues, Social issues, Social affairs, Legislation, Legislature, Government and politics

People, Places and Companies: Greece, Western Europe, Europe

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


10th century Greek manuscript is brought into the digital age

Phys.Org10th century Greek manuscript is brought into the digital agePhys.OrgA tenth century Greek manuscript, one of the latest additions to the Digital Library, shows how the transmission and reinterpretation of written knowledge over the centuries still continues in today's digital age. Cambridge's Digital Library ...


Backed By Chinese Group, Higher Bid For Hellenikon

Greece's privatization agency says it has received an improved offer to develop the former Hellenikon Airport site.

The post Backed By Chinese Group, Higher Bid For Hellenikon appeared first on The National Herald.


No New Tax, But Solidarity Tax Stays

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said there won't be any more taxes imposed, but a "solidarity tax" will be kept as long as needed.

The post No New Tax, But Solidarity Tax Stays appeared first on The National Herald.


Italy Joins Greece Selling Bank Stock to Once-Wary Investors

Italy Joins Greece Selling Bank Stock to Once-Wary InvestorsBloombergPiraeus Bank SA, Greece's second-largest lender, raised 1.75 billion euros selling stock, it said yesterday, while Athens-based Alpha Bank AE is raising 1.2 billion euros. Spain last month sold 7.5 percent of Bankia SA, the bailed-out Madrid-based bank ...and more »


UK retail sales surge on food

IMF agrees bailout for UkraineBank of England poised to rein in risky mortgage lending

Ofgem calls for inquiry into Big Six energy suppliers

European stock markets drift lower

11.03am GMT

In an attempt to tackle risky mortgage lending, the Bank of England has urged banks to consider the risk of future spikes in interest rates when approving mortgages. The central bank is readying tools to rein in overly risky lending.

House prices have climbed around 10% across Britain over the past year, and the Bank said mortgages were higher as a share of income than at any point since 2005, in a statement published this morning following last week's meeting of its financial policy committee.

In a continuation of a longer-term trend, mortgages at loan-to-income ratios above four times accounted for a higher share of new mortgages in the third quarter of 2013 than at any time since the data series began in 2005. New mortgage lending at high loan-to-value ratios remained low by historical standards, though the number of mortgage products offering higher loan-to-value ratios had doubled over the previous six months.

Given the increasing momentum, the FPC will remain vigilant to emerging vulnerabilities, will continue to monitor conditions closely and will take further proportionate and graduated action if warranted.

10.50am GMT

If in doubt turn to Russia for a market catalyst, says Nick Dale-Lace, senior sales trader at CMC Markets.

Forceful rhetoric from Obama overnight regarding Putin and Russia has taken the wind out of European equity markets sails as the two day rally comes to an abrupt end. In a market clearly lacking in conviction for where to go next we again turn to the situation in Russia to provide a catalyst for market direction as we seem to have done repeatedly over the past few weeks. Retail sales figures this morning failed to move the market and we now hope that this afternoons GDP numbers from the US will provide some concrete economic data on which to base genuine market valuations and hence give traders something on which to hang their bullish or bearish coats.

After a stellar 2013 Hennes & Mauritz, the second biggest fashion retailer in the world is 4% lower this morning on news of weaker than expected first quarter profits. This was blamed on both the general retail environment they find themselves in which is proving to be particularly challenging with the worlds current economic situation as well as a recent increase in business investment with online service development being a major area of spend. This was eased with news of a 12% increase in sales for March and a continuation of market share gains.

10.48am GMT

It's not just Greece that's on strike. Germany's main airports have been hit by a strike as public sector workers upped the ante in their pay dispute with the government. Frankfurt and Munich are among those affected. Lufthansa cancelled a third of flights scheduled for today, including almost all domestic and European short-haul flights during the strike period until 1300 GMT.

The walkout is part of wider action that also includes local transport staff and child carers. Trade unions are demanding pay rises of 3.5% plus an extra 100 per month for 2.1 million federal and municipal public sector workers, which would take the total increase to 6.7%.

9.58am GMT

Alan Clarke at Scotiabank says "UK retail sales are "flying".

The breakdown is volatile from one month to the next. But one thing that comes across loud and clear is that components related to the housing market are doing very well indeed.

For example, department store sales are up almost 6% y/y. The rather obscure 'other non-food' component is up 10% y/y. Internet sales are back up to 20% y/y.

9.56am GMT

Over on our Realitycheck pages, my colleague Juliette Jowit has looked at whether the investigation into the Big Six energy suppliers could cause blackouts.

An official investigation into over-charging customers for gas and electricity raised an "increasing risk" of blackouts, claims Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of the UK's biggest gas supplier, Centrica . Really?

9.51am GMT

Here's more on the IMF bailout for Ukraine, courtesy of Reuters. The $14-18bn loan agreement is intended to help Ukraine meet debt payments looming this year after months of anti-government protests which resulted in the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych and a standoff with Moscow in which Russia annexed the Crimea region.

The mission has reached a staff-level agreement with the authorities of Ukraine on an economic reform programme that can be supported by a two-year stand-by arrangement with the IMF," the IMF said in a statement.

The financial support from the broader international community that the programme will unlock amounts to $27bn over the next two years. Of this, assistance from the IMF will range between $14-18bn, with the precise amount to be determined once all bilateral and multilateral support is accounted for.

9.49am GMT

Returning to the strong UK retail sales numbers which took analysts by surprise, Keith Richardson, managing director of the retail sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said:

These figures are welcome news for retailers, particularly when viewed against the backdrop of the extreme weather conditions that affected large parts of the country during February. They suggest that consumer confidence is heading in the right direction and the sector is benefiting from an improved outlook.

Looking further ahead, price cuts particularly in the grocery sector, will benefit consumers in future months, although this will impact upon margins for both retailers and their suppliers. Retailers will look to the arrival of spring as a further opportunity to maintain positive momentum.

9.45am GMT

More Ofgem reaction. How many more winters before bills come down? asks Henry de Zoete, former government adviser and co-founder of

All this decision does is push the issue further down the road. It will take years to report, and even longer to implement. Meanwhile, the energy companies will be delighted to continue business as usual. But when energy bills have doubled people need help now.

How many more winters before bills come down? The only way for people to challenge the Big Six and get cheaper energy bills now is to group together. Theres power in numbers.

9.31am GMT

Just out: UK retail sales jumped 1.7% last month, following January's 2% drop over three times as much as expected. Sales volumes were up 1.6% in the three months to February, the highest since August. Supermarkets and other food stores contributed more than half of the growth in February.

9.17am GMT

James Padmore, head of energy at, said:

When it comes to energy bills, clarity is king. Although Ofgem highlights the lack of switching, its reforms being introduced next week will actually help people to change energy suppliers more easily. From next week, energy bills must display tariff information in a clear and consistent manner, which will help consumers make quick comparisons. Switching must be a part of the solution to the current high energy prices it is a healthy part of a functioning competitive marketplace and the process should be made as easy as possible for consumers. The market is clearly not working entirely in the consumer's favour, which is why 43% of consumers do not trust the transparency of energy suppliers.

Putting energy companies under the spotlight over what could be a two year review period will likely encourage them to get ahead of the game. Expect to see an increasing number of companies announce price freezes following in the footsteps of SSE - in order to retain customers and win consumer and regulatory trust. The energy price hikes of some companies in an uncompetitive market are clearly evidenced by the money people can save by switching providers in many cases comfortably around £350 a year. For a family of four this could pay for roughly a year and a halfs broadband.

8.52am GMT

More reaction to the energy competition investigation.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at, welcomed it but said that it would take at least 18 months before any proposals come out of the probe.

It is clear from the evidence we have seen that competition is not working well enough and it is absolutely essential that, in order for consumers to benefit from competition, we obtain a greater level of engagement. Competition is working well in the supermarket sector why cant it work as well for energy?

We also look forward to the launch of Ofgems consumer engagement campaign. Many of us lack both the information and the confidence to participate in this market. We need a simple, straight talking education programme that enables consumers to make the market work for them.

8.48am GMT

The London Stock Exchange said this morning that money raised on its markets surged 91% in the 11 months to the end of February and there was more in the pipeline. Equity capital raised jumped to £28.3bn from £14.8bn, with 162 stock market flotations against 107 a year earlier.

8.40am GMT

The European recovery rally has come to a halt following Wall Street's weak finish last night. Main stock markets are down between 0.4% and 0.5%. Swedish clothing chain Hennes & Mauritz the world's second-biggest fashion retailer after Spain's Inditex disappointed with results that fell well short of analysts' forecasts, triggering a 3.8% drop in the share price.

8.19am GMT

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has agreed a $14-18bn stand-by agreement with Ukraine, a deal that will unlock further loans to reach a total of $27bn over the next two years.

In a sign that the Ukraine crisis is affecting some businesses, Eurasia Drilling Russia's biggest oilfield services company said it expects a fall in 2014 revenues due to the weaker rouble (as well as Rosneft's decision to develop its own servicing business).

8.16am GMT

In London, shares in SSE and British Gas owner Centrica fell after Ofgem, the energy regulator, asked the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate the Big Six energy suppliers. SSE lost 1% while Centrica slipped 0.6%. The watchdog wants to settle 'once and for all' whether the companies' profit rises are due to barriers preventing competition

More on the story here.

We must have an energy market in this country that can attract the £110bn of investment needed over the coming years to secure and transform our power supply, while ensuring bills are manageable for both households and businesses.

An inquiry provides an opportunity to resolve the current debate and win back some much-needed confidence in the market. To achieve this, it is vital that the CMA is able to get on with its job swiftly, free from political interference.

8.11am GMT

The FTSE 100 index in London has tumbled some 30 points, or 0.4%, to 6574, while Germany's Dax, France's CAC, Italy's FTSE MIB and Spain's Ibex all slipped 0.2% in early trading.

7.53am GMT

The main focus this morning is UK retail sales for February, which are likely to have bounced back after January's 1.5% slump. City economists have pencilled in a 0.5% rise there was lots of heavy discounting that month which should have boosted sales volumes but the bad weather makes it a tad hard to forecast.

This morning also brings the statement from the Bank of Englands March Financial Policy Committee meeting.

7.52am GMT

Equity market calls from Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK:

FTSE100 is expected to open 30 points lower at 6,575

7.46am GMT

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the world economy, the eurozone and business.

It looks like the rally enjoyed by European shares in recent days is over, with markets expected to track Wall Street's dip last night, where tech stocks such as Facebook and King Digital Entertainment plummeted.


Cyprus U.N. envoy says economic crisis could aid peace deal

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cyprus's economic crisis could hasten a deal to end decades of enmity between the island's estranged Greeks and Turks, its outgoing United Nations envoy said on Thursday.


Archeologists Keen on Finding Ancient Greek Shipwrecks

Finding modern ships lost at sea can be a difficult task, even with the help of radars, sonar and satellites. Trying though,


Greek-Chinese Group Ups Hellenikon Bid

Greece’s gamble that the only bidder for the abandoned and neglected former Hellenikon Airport site on Athens’ coast wouldn’t walk away after


Voting against multi-bill could lead to euro exit, Georgiadis warns

Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis has warned deputies who have threatened to vote against a government multi-bill containing reforms agreed with the troika that failure to back the measures could force Greece to leave the euro area. “Anyone who votes agai... ...