Hopes of a prosperous New Year in the Balearics with most people looking forward to having a bit more money in their pockets as the local economy starts to stabilise have been dashed by the free falling Euro reaching new lows and the US Dollar continuing to gain strength against the Peseta. Interest rates went up again in Spain and the four peseta hike on the price of fuel, which has made fuel in the Balearics the most expensive in Spain, has wiped out any gains the solid economy would have brought next year. Only a month ago the Bulletin revealed that UK and Spanish charter airlines were seeking permission to increase flight prices by as much as eight percent next year - the strong Dollar has already cost Spanish charter airlines an extra 200'000 million pesetas-plus this year and unless the US decides to step in and take action over the Euro and the Dollar, package holiday and airline ticket prices are expected to rise significantly and the customer is going to have to foot the bill. Some of the Balearic fishing fleet, led by Palma fishermen, backed the national protest by staying in port over this latest fuel price hike and there is widespread discontent in the Balearic commercial and industrial sectors as the combined effects of rising fuel prices, the strong Dollar and the tumbling Euro hit home.