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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-01-03

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 3 January 2008 Issue No: 2785


  • [01] Karamanlis-Alogoskoufis meeting
  • [02] PM Costas Karamanlis attends EBEA reception
  • [03] SYRIZA official on 2007 state budget deficit
  • [04] Greek exporters urge for actions to boost exports
  • [05] Marfin Popular Bank issues 200-mln-euro subordinated bond loan
  • [06] Greeks exchange messages through mobile telephony networks during holidays
  • [07] Greek stocks end first session of 2008 with 0.55 pct gain
  • [08] Greek bond market closing report
  • [09] Foreign Exchange Rates - Thursday
  • [10] Frost and low temperatures in northern Greece
  • [11] "Hostel for the Poor" in Athens
  • [12] Partly cloudy on Thursday
  • [13] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [14] Barroso welcomes Cyprus in Euro area
  • [15] Commissioner Almunia: Cyprus now more integrated to the EU Politics

  • [01] Karamanlis-Alogoskoufis meeting

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met on Wednesday with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis at the Maximos Mansion in Athens.

    Alogoskoufis stated after the meeting that they discussed the course of the government's reform work planned for the New Year. He stated that 2008 will be a crucial year for the materialization of the government programme on development, employment and social cohesion considering the uncertainty in global economy.

    The finance minister stated that the government will continue its reform programme in the wider public sector, development and employment. The Greek economy, said Alogoskoufis, is protected by the policy measures implemented by the government during the past few years and the state budget approved in Parliament.

    [02] PM Costas Karamanlis attends EBEA reception

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attended the New Year reception organised by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) on Wednesday, sending a message of determination regarding the reforms that the country is in need of.

    "At a difficult and uncertain international conjuncture, the Greek economy is on the right path. It is proving in practice that it has a strong development potential that allows it to face whatever challenges. In 2008 we will be continuing with determination the reforms that the country is in need of. The reforms that, provenly, produce a benefit for the economy and for society. The policy that guarantees, secures fiscal stability, high growth rates, the strengthening of employment, a decrease in unemployment. We are forging ahead in 2008 with self-confidence and firm steps," the prime minister said on his arrival at the reception.

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said on his part that the Greek economy has strong foundations thanks to the reformist programme that, however, must be continued to enable the competitiveness of the Greek economy to benefit.

    Employment and Social Protection Minister Fani Petralia said that 2008 is the year in which the social security system will be secured for the current and the future generations.

    [03] SYRIZA official on 2007 state budget deficit

    Coalition (Synaspismos) Economic and Social Policy rapporteur and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Deputy Panayiotis Lafazanis on Wednesday stated that last year's state budget is up in the air, referring to data concerning the budget's deficit over the first 11 months, while expressing doubts over the accuracy of the 2008 state budget.

    "The upsurge in the deficit of the 2007 budget beyond any government prediction shows that last year's budget is up in the air, while the predictions for the 2008 budget are literally out of place and time," Lafazanis said.

    "The tax raid anticipated for 2008 will develop into a real tax storm with an unprecedented increase in indirect taxes and an increase in VAT in particular," he added, stressing that "so-called fiscal stabilisation, that was considered an unshakeable doctrine by all the governments of the past 20 years, is proving to be a fathomless barrel."

    Financial News

    [04] Greek exporters urge for actions to boost exports

    The Exporters' Federation of Northern Greece (SEBE) on Wednesday urged for an extraordinary meeting of the National Exports Council to discuss developments in the exporting business following the publication of trade figures that showed a 13.9 pct increase in the trade deficit in the January-October period this year.

    SEBE said that the latest figures confirmed Eurostat's figures for the nine-month period from January to September and the Federation's concerns over export trends in the country this year. SEBE said a declining trend in exports must be at the focus of attention by the National Export Council and urged for actions to boost the country's international competitiveness. The national statistics service said that Greek exports grew by 3.7 pct in the 10-month period this year, while imports surged by 10.4 pct.

    [05] Marfin Popular Bank issues 200-mln-euro subordinated bond loan

    Marfin Egnatia Bank's board on Wednesday announced the issuing of a 200-million-euro subordinated bond loan, in accordance with a general shareholders' meeting decision in June 22, 2006. The 10-year bond carries a three-month Euribor, plus an annual 0.95 percent margin for the first five years and a three-month Euribor plus an annual 1.95 pct for the remaining five years of the maturity.

    The bond loan was fully covered by Marfin Popular Bank Public Co Ltd.

    [06] Greeks exchange messages through mobile telephony networks during holidays

    The Greeks chose their mobile phones again this year to send their best wishes to their loved ones and friends during the holidays. According to data provided by mobile telephony companies, both messages and calls from mobile phones increased considerably this year, compared to last year.

    The Cosmote company announced that from December 24 to January 1, about 87 million written messages were sent, increasing by 30 percent compared to last year.

    Data provided by the Vodafone company showed that from December 24 to January 1, about 87 million messages were sent, up 5 percent as against last year.

    Lastly, data from the Wind company revealed that 81.6 million written messages were sent, increasing by 79 percent compared to last year.

    [07] Greek stocks end first session of 2008 with 0.55 pct gain

    Greek stocks ended the first trading session of 2008 with moderate gains in the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index rose 0.55 percent to end at 5,207.44 points with turnover at 261.38 million euros, of which 89.64 million were block trades.

    Most sectors moved higher, with the Raw Materials (2.52 pct), Commerce (1.83 pct), Food/Beverage (1.70 pct) and Oil (1.24 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (0.82 pct), Healthcare (0.63 pct) and Financial Services (0.10 pct) suffered losses.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.37 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.75 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 0.31 pct up. ANEK (15.50 pct) and Olympic Technical (14.13 pct) were top gainers, while Informer (9.71 pct), ANEK (8.65 pct) and Kepenos Mills (8.13 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 130 to 121 with another 45 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -0.82%

    Industrials: +0.32%

    Commercial: +1.83%

    Construction: +0.86%

    Media: -0.09%

    Oil & Gas: +1.24%

    Personal & Household: +1.11%

    Raw Materials: +2.52%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.12%

    Technology: -0.01%

    Telecoms: +0.82%

    Banks: +0.20%

    Food & Beverages: +1.70%

    Health: -0.63%

    Utilities: +1.11%

    Chemicals: +0.66%

    Financial Services: -0.10%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, DEH, Marfin Investment Group and OPAP.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 25.10

    ATEbank: 3.88

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 36.16

    HBC Coca Cola: 30.16

    Hellenic Petroleum: 11.40

    National Bank of Greece: 46.74

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 23.98

    Intralot: 13.30

    OPAP: 27.54

    OTE: 25.40

    Titan Cement Company: 31.48

    [08] Greek bond market closing report

    Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market totaled 1.174 billion euros on Wednesday, of which 377 million were buy order and the remaining 797 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2017) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 435 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 0.31 percent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.60 percent and the German Bund 4.29 pct.

    In the domestic interbank market, interest rates were largely unchanged. National Bank's overnight rate was 3.50 percent, the two-day rate 3.87 pct, the one-month rate 4.24 pct and the 12-month rate 4.74 pct.

    [09] Foreign Exchange Rates - Thursday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.480

    Pound sterling 0.747

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 9.501

    Japanese yen 165.1

    Swiss franc 1.666

    Norwegian kroner 8.049

    Canadian dollar 1.463

    Australian dollar 1.680

    General News

    [10] Frost and low temperatures in northern Greece

    Icy conditions and very low temperatures across northern Greece were the main weather characteristics on Wednesday.

    The Aghios Vasilios-Chortiatis provincial road in Thessaloniki remains closed for precautionary reasons after the snowfall recorded overnight on New Year's Eve.

    Cars using the provincial road network in the prefectures of Imathia, Pella, Kilkis, Serres and Halikidiki need snow chains.

    The snowfall in the prefectures of Kastoria and Florina, northwest Greece, has made snow chains imperative for cars using the local provincial road network and the national motorway in the sections between Kastoria and Florina via Nestorio, Aminteo and Vitsi.

    Temperatures dropped below zero at dawn in several cities in northern Greece. Kozani had -5C, Nevrokopi -4C, Kastoria and Alexandroupolis -2C and Thessaloniki and Serres -1C.

    [11] "Hostel for the Poor" in Athens

    The establishment of a "Hostel for the Poor" was announced by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis in the customary New Year celebration organized by the City of Athens Homeless Foundation. This pioneer programme will offer high quality services focusing on the elderly homeless.

    Kaklamanis stated that following the Social Grocery of Athens established in 2007, this year's goal is the "Hostel for the Poor" that will serve as a home for those deprived of family care. He also stressed that Athens is the only European capital city that operates a soup kitchen for a total of 1,200 people on a daily basis.

    The new hostel named "Hestia of Athens", at the donor's request, will have a capacity of roughly 70 beds and will be housed in a Patision Street building downtown Athens. All guests will receive psychological support and healthcare, while a recreation room will operate on the building's ground floor.

    Weather Forecast

    [12] Partly cloudy on Thursday

    Partly cloudy weather with northerly, northwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 5-6 beaufort. Sleet in Thrace. Frost in the morning. Temperatures will range between -9C and 14C. Mostly fair in Athens, with northerly, northwesterly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 02C to 10C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -03C to 03C.

    [13] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The ongoing affair of the alleged blackmailing case at a former Culture Ministry secretary general Christos Zachopoulos that fell from his fourth-floor apartment and remains hospitalised dominated for once more the Athens newspaper headlines on Wednesday in an otherwise slow news week.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Investigations focus on 'sex tapes' -New development in Zachopoulos' affair".

    APOGEVMATINI: "8,000 public sector hirings"

    AVRIANI: The newspaper banners the front page headlines featuring bribery claims by a former Siemens executor

    VRADYNI: "2008 'gifts' in wider public sector - Raises in wages, pensions and benefits"

    ETHNOS: «Paper charges government cover up over Zachopoulos affair".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: The paper refers in ailing Archbishop health

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Not even a single euro to firestricken areas".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Paper alleges political manipulations over Zachopoulos affair

    ESTIA: "Changes in government's policy in 2008"

    TA NEA: "Police report refers to a blackmailing ring - Government's 'claims of sex tapes' fades"

    CHORA: "Changes and reforms with positive results -PM Costas Karamanlis' meaningful message for New Year"

    Cyprus Affairs

    [14] Barroso welcomes Cyprus in Euro area


    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has welcomed Cyprus to the Ćuro area of 15 European Union countries, stretching from the Mediterranean to the Artic Circle.

    In a written statement on the occasion of the adoption of the euro by Cyprus as from 1st January 2008, Barroso said the arrival of the Euro, marks a new chapter of Cypriot history.

    ''This momentous step will bring Cyprus to the very heart of the European Union. It means that Cyprus has joined a world class currency and a powerful economic area of nearly 320 million citizens, with an almost 15% share of world GDP,'' he said.

    For Cyprus, the Commission President noted, the economic benefits of the Euro will be substantial. The solid credibility brought by the Euro should give a healthy boost to Foreign Direct Investment while the disappearance of exchange rate risks and transaction costs will make Cyprus a more attractive trading partner and be very beneficial for business. For Cyprus, this represents a significant advantage as more than half of Cypriot trade in goods is with Euro area members.

    Trade in services with the Euro area accounts for around 30% of the total.

    Like all other EU Member States, Barroso added, Cyprus is at the moment facing rising prices for energy and some other commodities.

    ''However, in the longer term Cyprus' adoption of the Euro will, as well as helping create growth and jobs, ensure that low inflation can be preserved and anchored in a sustainable manner. This will, of course, also require the right economic policies, including a sound budgetary policy and the promotion of open competitive markets.''

    The Commission President pointed out that joining the Euro area also offers significant political benefits. ''It will give Cyprus a greater say in international financial institutions and fora and greater sway within the European Union. Cyprus will also gain membership of the Eurogroup at a time when the Euro area finance ministers group is exerting a growing influence over the direction of EU economic policy.''

    He said these are not the only benefits that Cyprus can look forward to. Cypriots can now travel more easily within the Euro area without the hassle of changing currencies and paying fees every time they cross a border, and are better able to compare prices since they can use their own currency anywhere in the Euro area. Traveling outside the Euro area is also easier since the Euro is an international currency and therefore widely accepted in many places outside the Euro area, particularly in tourist destinations.

    ''The Euro is a symbol of our common identity, shared values and the success of European integration in bringing the peoples and nations of Europe together. It acts as a stimulus to further integration by showing that common action by Member States can bring widespread benefits to all those who take part. The whole of Europe is pleased that Cyprus is now firmly part of all of this too,'' Barroso added.

    On the occasion of the New Year, the European Commission President reiterated his wish for a speedy solution to the Cyprus problem that would allow the whole of Cyprus and all of its people to fully enjoy the benefits of membership of the EU and of the Euro area.

    ''The European Commission will continue to do everything humanly possible to help move forward on this question, which I know concerns everyone in Cyprus,'' Barroso concluded.

    Cyprus, which joined the European Union in 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.

    [15] Commissioner Almunia: Cyprus now more integrated to the EU


    European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia has said that with the adoption of the euro on January 1st, 2008, Cyprus has become even more integrated in the heart of the European Union, less than four years after it joined the EU.

    ''This is thanks to the stability-orientated economic policies pursued by Cyprus, which I hope will continue after it adopts the euro,'' Almunia said. He encouraged the Cypriot people ''to embrace our shared currency with confidence because they are entering a monetary union that has proven its worth in terms of price stability and low interest rates.''

    The euro has replaced the Cyprus pound at a rate of CYP 0.585274 for one euro (or Á 1.71 per pound), following a decision taken by the Ecofin Council in July on Commission proposals.

    During the dual circulation period running until January 31, 2008, the Cyprus pound can still be used in daily cash payments in parallel with the euro. It is however expected that already in a couple of days the cash changeover will be completed and virtually all cash transactions will be carried out in euro.

    Citizens in Cyprus are able to withdraw euro cash from ATMs and to use it for daily payments.

    Cypriot citizens warmly welcomed their new currency, and a celebration was organised at the Ministry of Finance.

    President Barroso and Commissioner Almunia will be in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on January 18 for a ceremony to celebrate the adoption of the euro.

    The European Commission said will continue to monitor the changeover operation very closely.

    Cyprus adopted the single currency along with Malta and the euro area now comprises 15 out of the 27 EU countries and includes a population of 318 million out of the EU's total of 493 million.

    The euro area exists since January 1, 1999, when 11 of the then 15 EU Member States adopted the single currency. Greece followed in 2001.

    The euro banknotes and coins were introduced on January 1, 2002, after a transitional period of three years (one year in the case of Greece) during which the euro was the currency of the Member States concerned and could be used in scriptural form, while national cash was still used in cash payments. As the first of the 10 Member States which acceded to the EU on May 1, 2004, Slovenia adopted the euro on January 1, 2007.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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