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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-01-10

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Tuesday, 10 January 2012 Issue No: 3969

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM and finance ministry leadership discuss PSI negotiations; holds separate meetings with judiciary, SETE
  • [02] PM Papademos holds meeting with ND party leader Samaras
  • [03] Written statement by ND party spokesman on Papademos-Samaras meeting
  • [04] Meeting between PM Papademos, PASOK party leader possibly on Saturday
  • [05] Greek PM holds phone talks with French president
  • [06] Merkel urges Greece to move faster on second bailout deal, PSI
  • [07] KKE party on Merkel-Sarkozy statements
  • [08] Karatzaferis received by President
  • [09] State Minister: Not alternative solution for Greece at the moment
  • [10] PASOK spokesman leaves open slight chance of Papandreou again vying for party helm
  • [11] SYRIZA leader seeks off the agenda debate in parliament on latest developments
  • [12] Administrative Reform minister meets IMF permanent representative in Athens
  • [13] Israeli Defence minister on official visit to Greece
  • [14] PM Papademos to receive Israeli DM Ehud Barak on Tuesday
  • [15] Danish ambassador: Greece remaining in the euro is an EU priority
  • [16] Preliminary investigation ordered into incident involving PASOK former minister in which police office was injured
  • [17] No welfare benefits linked to new disability categories, labour ministry stresses
  • [18] Turkish Air Force helicopter flies over Greek islet of Ro
  • [19] Turkish aircraft enter Athens FIR
  • [20] Tax avoidance a greater problem than tax evasion, KKE leader states
  • [21] Credit to private sector remained negative in November
  • [22] Exports return to rise in Nov. 2011, imports drop further
  • [23] Greek mutual funds' assets down 34.7 pct in 2011
  • [24] Industrial production down 7.8 pct in Nov
  • [25] Jumbo reports 1.0 pct increase in H1 sales
  • [26] Bussiness Briefs
  • [27] Foreign investors raise participation in ASE in December
  • [28] Stocks remain under pressure, end lower
  • [29] Greek bond market closing report
  • [30] ADEX closing report
  • [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [32] Three paintings stolen during National Gallery break-in, police report
  • [33] Protest outside firm outsourced by PPC to cut off power for non-payment of bills
  • [34] Flock of 83 sheep stolen in Sagiada
  • [35] Man charged for fatal hit-and-run in Peloponnese
  • [36] Minor earthquake in Thessaloniki
  • [37] Fire breaks out in downtown Athens hotel
  • [38] Cloudy on Tuesday
  • [39] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM and finance ministry leadership discuss PSI negotiations; holds separate meetings with judiciary, SETE

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Monday had a two-hour meeting with Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and deputy finance ministers Filippos Sahinidis and Pantelis Economou.

    During the meeting, they discussed the course of negotiations for the PSI bond swap programme, fiscal issues and matters relating to the upcoming talks with the EU-IMF troika due in Athens next week.

    Afterward, Papademos had a meeting with the presidency of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises.

    In earlier meetings on Monday morning that were also attended by Justice Minister Mihalis Papaioannou and Minister of State George Stavropoulos, the prime minister met the heads of judges' unions and discussed problems in the justice sector and problems slowing down the issue of court rulings.

    [02] PM Papademos holds meeting with ND party leader Samaras

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos held a meeting with New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Monday evening, lasting for over 90 minutes, with which the cycle of contacts with party leaders supporting the government opened.

    Samaras arrived at the Maximos Mansion, accompanied by ND's press spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis and the director of his office C. Bouras, at 6 and left shortly after 7:30.

    Statements on the content of the meeting are expected to be made later in the party's headquarters.

    [03] Written statement by ND party spokesman on Papademos-Samaras meeting

    New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis issued a brief written statement, following the meeting between ND leader Antonis Samaras and Prime Minister Lucas Papademos that lasted for 90 minutes on Monday evening.

    The announcement stresses that "the president of ND Mr. Antonis Samaras was briefed by Prime Minister Mr. Lucas Papademos on the course of the PSI and the course of the economy in light of the arrival of the troika in our country. An exchange of views followed on these issues."

    [04] Meeting between PM Papademos, PASOK party leader possibly on Saturday

    The meeting between Prime Minister Lucas Paspademos and PASOK party president George Papandreou will probably be held on this coming Saturday, according to the latest developments, relevant sources told the ANA-MPA.

    The prime minister's cycle of contacts with the party leaders supporting the government will be closing with the meeting, in light of the arrival of the troika in Athens next week and the starting of negotiations for the new loan contract.

    Moreover, the two-day sessions of PASOK's National Council are scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday.

    [05] Greek PM holds phone talks with French president

    Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos held a long telephone conversation with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday evening that focused mainly on the PSI bond swap programme.

    According to reports, the French president was positive as regards the PSI programme's evolution, while he expressed his readiness to help towards a successful outcome of the ongoing negotiations.

    The telephone talks followed a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Sarkozy, in Berlin earlier Monday.

    [06] Merkel urges Greece to move faster on second bailout deal, PSI

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA - F. Karaviti)

    Greece must speed up negotiations for the second bailout package, including the PSI bond swap programme, in order to receive the next tranche of EU bailout loans, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed in Berlin on Monday, following a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    "The second Greek aid package, including this [debt] restructuring, must be in place quickly. "Otherwise it won't be possible to pay out the next tranche for Greece," she told a news conference.

    Replying to questions on whether the European Union had taken sufficient measures to avert a Greek default, Merkel stressed that the goal was that no member-state should be excluded from the Eurozone and that Greece appeared to be on a "reasonable path".

    She stressed, however, that all the measures agreed with the EU-IMF troika must be implemented and referred specifically to the PSI bond-swap programme, saying that this was a condition for disbursing the next tranche of economic aid.

    "We must give Greece a chance but Greece must once more become competitive. We want Greece to remain in the Eurozone but we also want Athens to meet its commitments to the troika," she stressed, saying she had received assurances to that effect from Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos during a phone conversation the previous week.

    Both Merkel and Sarkozy appeared confident that an agreement for greater fiscal discipline in the EU will be signed by March and agreed on the need to boost growth and employment, while adopting a common position concerning a tax on financial transactions.

    Sarkozy stressed his support for the envisaged tax, even if it was imposed only in France, as a way of correcting the injustices that arose from the practices of financial institutions that he blamed for the economic crisis.

    While noting that his government would not take decisions without dialogue, he stressed that if the measure were imposed throughout the EU it would create sufficient momentum for international public opinion to press for its global application.

    Merkel said that she agreed with Sarkozy concerning the necessity for the tax "personally", even if it were restricted to the Eurozone, but clarified that there was no agreement on this within the German government yet.

    [07] KKE party on Merkel-Sarkozy statements

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), commenting on Monday on statements by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, stressed that "the parties of the (Greek) joint government, the EU and the plutocracy are going hand-in-hand regarding the covering up of the causes of the crisis and securing the competitiveness of capital."

    KKE reiterated that "for the struggles of working people to have a result, they must reject their misconceptions and turn more decisively against the joint government, the EU and the capital itself that they serve."

    [08] Karatzaferis received by President

    Greece must function as a tight fist vis-a-vis its lenders, the established perceptions and the guilds, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis said on Monday, after a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    "But with only one finger raised, I do not see such a fist existing, and that finger could break and problems could arise," Karatzaferis warned.

    Asked by reporters what he intended to do, Karatzaferis recalled that he has send two letters to the leaders of the other two parties backing and participating in the transitional government of prime minister Lucas Papademos, to the prime minister and to finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, calling for two meetings to be convened, one on the stance that Athens will maintain, and another so that they would all negotiate with the troika together.

    [09] State Minister: Not alternative solution for Greece at the moment

    Minister of State and government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis on Monday stressed that an alternative solution for Greece does not exist at the moment, referring to the government's economic policy. Kapsis, speaking on private MEGA television station, said that 'if we lose control then we will be led into very difficult situations'.

    The minister called the negotiation on the bond swaps extremely difficult adding that 'we have before us the new loan arrangement and the programme that will bind us for the next three years" and referred to a "marathon" in order to jump-start the real economy.

    Kapsis also said that there is no issue of a government reshuffle, stating that in this period the government is proceeding very seriously and the government scheme will remain solid, expressing his belief that the three parties participating in the interim government will support the government until the end.

    [10] PASOK spokesman leaves open slight chance of Papandreou again vying for party helm

    A PASOK party spokesman on Monday left open the possibility of ex-premier George Papandreou again vying for the party's leadership.

    Speaking to an Athens radio station, MP Panos Beglitis referred to what he called an "alternative proposal".

    "It's another alternative proposal; we can discuss if there will be necessary line-ups and acceptance by the majority, or by a large majority of PASOK cadres. It is still an open possibility," he said, clarifying that this doesn't "mean necessarily that it will occur".

    [11] SYRIZA leader seeks off the agenda debate in parliament on latest developments

    Coalition of the Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday called for an off-the-agenda debate in parliament on the crucial developments and the Greek government's stance on the PSI, the new loan contract and government's "commitment to impose additional painful measures", in a letter addressed to parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos.

    "Lucas Papademos' three-party government is called on to negotiate and to take decisions with our lenders on issues and choices that will determine the country's future without, however, a mandate from the Greek people and without legitimization from the citizens", adding that a coercion and intimidation operation has been launched in the interior and abroad.

    "The troika and the markets, the prime minister and the three parties that support it as well as the Bank of Greece governor are attempting, with their statements, to terrify the citizens in order to accept the new austerity measures and to circumvent the popular reactions," Tsipras said in his letter.

    [12] Administrative Reform minister meets IMF permanent representative in Athens

    Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas met on Monday with the IMF's permanent representative in Athens Bob Traa and it was reconfirmed as a focal arithmetical target the decrease by 150,000 of staff in the public sector and the wider public sector, for the 2010-2015 period, through pensioning and the decrease of newly-hired only for the coverage of real needs.

    During the first two years of the programme (2010-2011) about 90,000 employees have left the public sector and, according to Administrative Reform ministry sources, the target is feasible without layoffs with a horizontal character taking place.

    Reppas briefed Traa on the implementation of the reserve with the use of horizontal criteria, stressing once again that the horizontal criteria are not correct and reiterated that they do not constitute a policy option.

    [13] Israeli Defence minister on official visit to Greece

    Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is making an official visit to Greece.

    At 10:30 on Tuesday morning, Barak will be meeting his Greek counterpart Dimitris Avramopoulos with whom he is expected to discuss issues concerning the course of bilateral relations, as well as developments in the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean.

    In the framework of his visit, Barak will also be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    [14] PM Papademos to receive Israeli DM Ehud Barak on Tuesday

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will be meeting at 12 noon on Tuesday with Development, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis and at 4 in the afternoon he will be receiving Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Ehud Barak on a courtesy call, who is on an official visit to Greece.

    At 6 in the afternoon, the prime minister will be receiving Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis in the framework of the cycle of contacts he has begun with party leaders supporting the government.

    [15] Danish ambassador: Greece remaining in the euro is an EU priority

    Outlining the priorities of the new Danish presidency of the European Union during a press conference in Athens on Monday, Danish Ambassador to Athens Tom Norring stressed that the entire EU placed priority on keeping Greece in the euro.

    He stressed that no one had officially said anything to the contrary and that a succession of bailout packages to help Greece, including the second aid package agreed in July and then further boosted on October 26, were clear messages that member-states desired Greece to remain in the Eurozone.

    Replying to questions about the Greek debt crisis, Norring noted that this was so deep that the bailout packages were not sufficient and that the Greek government its people would also have to do what was necessary to return the country to growth. He stressed that Europe was prepared to help but Greece would also have to do its part.

    He also referred to problems of illegal migration and human trafficking, admitted that Greece faced particularly high pressures from illegal migration and needed the support of its European partners in dealing with these.

    The ambassador said the EU had to send a strong message that third-country nationals could not enter the EU illegally. He also agreed with a reporter that the majority of illegal migrants entering Greece came via Turkey, adding that Turkey was not honouring an agreement with Greece for the re-admission of migrants, expressing hope that negotiations on an EU deal on this issue would finally yield results.

    Denmark took over the six-month EU rotating presidency on January 1 and will hand over the presidency to Cyprus.

    [16] Preliminary investigation ordered into incident involving PASOK former minister in which police office was injured

    An investigation was ordered on Monday by Athens chief prosecutor Eleni Raikou into an incident over the weekend involving PASOK former minister and ex-MP Kimon Koulouris, in which a police officer was injured.

    The investigation was ordered after a report received from the DIAS motorcycle police squad according to which Koulouris , on the night of Saturday, January 7, sped through several red traffic lights until stopped by police at the intersection of Vouliagmenis and Kalliroi avenues, attempted to evade a check and denied to present his driver's license and other papers.

    According to police sources, DIAS officers flagged down the driver of a black Mercedes on a red-light violation but the driver did not stop immediately. The driver, who turned out to be Koulouris and was accompanied by his 15-year-old daughter, eventually stopped and while a police check was in progress suddenly started up the car again and took off, injuring one of the officers, a 25-year-old who was in front of the former minister's car at the time, in both legs.

    The policeman was rushed to hospital by ambulance to the 401 military hospital, while Koulouris was taken to the Kessariani traffic police station where a preliminary investigation was underway, and was afterwards released after giving a statement.

    The policeman was released from the hospital after receiving first aid treatment.

    Koulouris is charged with causing a traffic accident and injury, and was served a fine for violating a red traffic light and for having failed to renew his driver's license, which is obligatory over the age of 65.

    Raikou ordered an investigation into whether Koulouris carried out the violations of resisting authority, causing bodily harm and obstructing traffic, and into whether there were police responsibilities regarding the officers present at the incident and later at the Kessariani police station, and whether they acted within the limits of their duties.

    Citizens Protection minister Christos Papoutsis on Monday morning, in a symbolic gesture, called the four DIAS police officers who conducted the check on Koulouris for traffic violations to his office and congratulated them on honouring their mission, stressing that all citizens are equal before the law. He added that it is the duty of all security corps members to act in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the laws, without distinction, and with absolute respect for the rights of the citizens as set out in the Constitution.

    Meanwhile, the officer injured in the incident has asked for the prosecution of Koulouris for the accident and his injury.

    At the same time, the Association of special guards, to which the injured officer belongs, intimated at an attempted cover-up in the case and preferential treatment of Koulouris by the Greek Police (ELAS) in the procedure that followed the incident, which was rejected by ELAS in a press release.

    In a statement on a private radio station on Monday morning, Koulouris said that his car "did not touch the police officer" and denied speeding through a red light.

    [17] No welfare benefits linked to new disability categories, labour ministry stresses

    The labour and social insurance ministry on Monday issued an announcement concerning the new regulations for estimating levels of disability that were passed with a recent omnibus bill, clarifying that none of the controversial categories reported on in the press in recent days would lead to anyone receiving welfare pensions or benefits.

    The new regulations published in the government gazette on November 8 had caused a major stir because various physical and mental conditions with criminal connotations, such as paedophilia, kleptomania, certain types of sexual deviancy or pyromania were classed as causing 20 to 30 percent disability.

    While noting that the new regulations, which revised those of 1993, were drafted by a prestigious medical committee based on medical criteria, the announcement also stressed that the percentages of disability announced concerned only the medical diagnosis of disability and were not linked to any sort of social insurance benefit.

    "No insured individual will receive any kind of welfare benefit based on the new percentages," the announcement said.

    [18] Turkish Air Force helicopter flies over Greek islet of Ro

    A Turkish Air Force helicopter entered Greece's Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans at 2:51 p.m. on Monday and flew over the Aegean islet of Ro, the Greek Armed Forces General Staff announced.

    The helicopter entered the Athens FIR southwest of Ro and remained in the region for approximately half an hour, flying over Ro at a height of 200 feet (65 metres) at 3:24 p.m. and exiting the Athens FIR at 3:30 p.m.

    A pair of Greek Air Force planes were sent to the region to intercept the helicopter.

    [19] Turkish aircraft enter Athens FIR

    Turkish aircraft entered, according to reports, the Athens FIR once again without submitting flight plans.

    The 6 turkish aircraft entered the Athens FIR earlier on Monday evening between the islands of Lesvos and Chios. Two infringements of air traffic regulations on the Athens FIR were recorded that developed into 5 violations of national airspace.

    The Turkish aircraft were recognised and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighters and left the Athens FIR, flying between Chios and Samos at about 20:40.

    The Turkish aircraft were not armed and no engagements took place.

    Financial News

    [20] Tax avoidance a greater problem than tax evasion, KKE leader states

    Greece's unfair tax system, with its huge tax exemptions for large capital, was a greater problem than tax evasion, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga asserted during a meeting with the tax office employee's union POE-DOY on Monday.

    She said that KKE rejected the view, which she termed government propaganda, that the crisis was the result of tax evasion and the failure of tax collection mechanisms to work, with blame centred mainly on tax office staff.

    "We begin from the fact that the debt is a symptom and not a cause of the crisis," she said, adding that the great margins given to large companies to legally avoid taxation or pay minimal tax were a greater problem than tax evasion.

    She noted that tax officials were being asked to work so that the people paid much higher direct and indirect taxes than those raking in massive profits and getting rich at others' expense.

    [21] Credit to private sector remained negative in November

    The annual growth rate of total credit granted to the domestic private sector decreased to -2.4% in November 2011 (October 2011: -2.2%, December 2010: 0.0%), the Bank of Greece said on Monday.

    In a monthly report, the central bank said that the net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative amounting to 1.267 billion euros (November 2010: negative net flow of 736 million).

    Credit to enterprises

    The net flow of credit to enterprises in November 2011 was negative, amounting to 614 million (November 2010: negative net flow of 544 million) and the annual growth rate of credit stood at -0.5% from -0.4% in October 2011 (December 2010: 1.1%). More precisely, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial enterprises stood at -1.0% in November 2011 from -0.9% in the previous month, while the annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries, which includes significant intra-group transactions, increased to 10.0% in November 2011 from 7.6% in October 2011.

    Credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships

    The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative, amounting to 147 million in November 2011 (November 2010: negative net flow of 16 million) and the annual rate of change of credit decreased to -6.5% in November 2011 from -5.7% in the previous month (December 2010: 0.3%).

    Credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions

    In November 2011, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 506 million (November 2010: negative net flow of 177 million). As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions decreased further (November 2011: -3.8%, October 2011: -3.6%, December 2010: -1.2%).

    [22] Exports return to rise in Nov. 2011, imports drop further

    Greek exports returned to an upward trend in November 2011, after a decline in October, while imports continued to drop sharply due to an increasing decline in local consumer demand, according to flash estimates released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Monday.

    ELSTAT, in a report, said that the total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, for the 12-month time period of December 2010 - November 2011 decreased by 12.5% compared to the corresponding 12- month time period of December 2009 - November 2010. The total value of imports-arrivals, excluding oil products, in November 2011 amounted to 2587.0 million euros against 3110.7 million euros in November 2010, recording a drop of 16.8%.

    The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, for the 12-month time period of December 2010 - November 2011 increased by 12.1 compared to the corresponding 12-month time period of December 2009 - November 2010. The total value of exports-dispatches in November 2011 amounted to 1727.7 million euros against 1709.2. million euros in November 2010, recording an increase of 1.1%.

    The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, in November 2011 amounted to 1420.1 million euros against 1465.0 million euros in November 2010, recording a drop of 3.1%. The total value of exports-dispatches, excluding oil products, for the 12-month time period of December 2010 - November 2011 increased by 12.1% compared to the corresponding 12-month time period of December 2009 - November 2010.

    [23] Greek mutual funds' assets down 34.7 pct in 2011

    Greek mutual funds' assets fell by 34.7 pct in 2011 to 5.2 billion euros, from 8.0 billion euros at the end of 2010, official figures showed on Monday. Eurobank Asset Management, with a market share of 27.4 pct, National Asset Management with a share of 17.4 pct, Alpha Asset Management (15.5 pct) and Pension Funds Asset Management (10 pct), the top four asset management companies managed around 70 pct of total assets in the domestic mutual funds market last year, out of a total 22 companies with activities in the sector.

    [24] Industrial production down 7.8 pct in Nov

    Industrial production fell 7.8 pct in November, compared with the same month last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday. In a monthly, the statistics service, said the industrial production composite index fell 7.8 pct in November after falling by 8.0 pct in November 2010, reflecting an 11.7 pct decline in manufacturing production.

    The statistics service attributed this decline to a 3.2 pct fall in mining production, an 11.7 pct in manufacturing production (oil/coal production -23.8 pct, non-metal minerals -43 pct, transport equipment -29.2 pct, furniture -32.6 pct, alcohol -14.9 pct, textiles -21.4 pct, clothing -21.8 pct, printing -24.7 pct), a 2.3 pct fall in electricity production and a 0.4 pct fall in water production

    The industrial production average index in the January-November period fell 8.2 pct compared with the corresponding period in 2010.

    [25] Jumbo reports 1.0 pct increase in H1 sales

    Jumbo Group on Monday said its sales rose around 1.0 pct in the first half of the current year (July 2011-June 2012) compared with the same period last year, to around 293 million euros.

    In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, Jumbo Group said this result was in line with management's forecasts for achieving a 0-2 pct increase in this year's sales and reflects the implementation of the company's investment strategy for operating 12 new superstores in the fiscal years 2011 and 2012, combined with an increased productivity rate in the Group.

    [26] Bussiness Briefs

    -- The annual growth rate of total credit granted to the domestic private sector decreased to -2.4 percent in November 2011 (October 2011: -2.2 percent, December 2010: 0.0 percent), the Bank of Greece said on Monday.

    -- More than eight in 10 shop owners in Thessaloniki said turnover fell during the Christmas and New Year's holiday season, with turnover falling by an average 30 pct, a survey conducted by the Thessaloniki Commerce Club in a sample of 200 enterprises of the sector revealed on Monday.

    [27] Foreign investors raise participation in ASE in December

    Foreign investors' participation in the capitalization of the Athens Stock Exchange rose to 50.9 pct in December, from 49.1 pct a month earlier, official figures showed on Monday. Greek investors cut their exposure in the domestic capital market to 47.9 pct in December from 49.7 pct in November. Foreign investors were net buyers in the last month of 2011, with capital inflows of 6.22 million euros, while Greek investors were net sellers with capital outflows of 6.61 million euros.

    The value of trading in the market totaled 596.76 million euros in December, down 45.7 pct from November and down 64 pct compared with December 20109, while average daily turnover was 28.4 million euros, down from 49.93 million euros in November. The number of active investor codes plunged to 24,675 in December from 36,503 in November and 34,994 in December 2010. The market's capitalization fell to 26.64 billion euros, down 0.7 pct from the previous month but down 50.9 pct compared with December 2010.

    [28] Stocks remain under pressure, end lower

    Stocks came under strong selling pressure in the first trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange, with the composite index of the market losing ground for the fifth consecutive session. Bank shares suffered heavy losses amid uncertainty over the impact of a PSI program on banks and the size of provisions reslting from a Blackrock survey to be published in the next few days.

    The index fell 1.71 pct to end at 636.52 points, after rising as much as 1.32 pct early in the day. Turnover was a low 24.54 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 2.17 pct, the Mid Cap index fell 2.11 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.83 pct down. OTE (1.49 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher with Jumbo ended unchanged. Alpha Bank (7.53 pct), Eurobank (6.81 pct), Cyprus Bank (6.42 pct) and National Bank (5.56 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Telecoms (1.49 pct) and Personal Products (0.37 pct) were the only sectors to end higher, while Banks (5.78 pct), Financial Services (3.18 pct) and Oil (3.14 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 97 to 35 with another 23 issues unchanged. Tegopoulos (19.67 pct), Altec (13.33 pct0 and ALKO (12.68 pct) were top gainers, while Alsinco (29.79 pct), Dias Fish Farms (23.81 pct) and NEL (18.84 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -1.88%

    Commercial: -2.94%

    Construction: -0.44%

    Oil & Gas: -3.14%

    Personal & Household: +0.37%

    Raw Materials: -2.35%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.37%

    Technology: -0.78%

    Telecoms: +1.49%

    Banks: -5.78%

    Food & Beverages: -0.83%

    Health: -1.18%

    Utilities: -2.24%

    Chemicals: -2.17%

    Financial Services: -3.18%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Coca Cola 3E, OPAP and Bank of Cyprus.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.43

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.63

    HBC Coca Cola: 12.90

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.08

    National Bank of Greece: 1.36

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.30

    OPAP: 6.24

    OTE: 2.73

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.22

    Titan: 11.37

    [29] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 27.38 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 27.38 pct and the German Bund 1.88 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month rate was 1.88 pct, the six-month rate 1.55 pct, the three-month rate 1.27 pct and the one-month rate 0.91 pct.

    [30] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.95 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 6.534 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,439 contracts worth 4.171 million euros, with 16,450 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,554 contracts worth 2.364 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (11,376), followed by Cyprus Bank (493), OTE (270), PPC (389), OPAP (352), Piraeus Bank (158), Alpha Bank (2,667), Motor Oil (112), Hellenic Postbank (260), ATEbank (150).

    [31] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.291

    Pound sterling 0.836

    Danish kroner 7.547

    Swedish kroner 8.966

    Japanese yen 99.34

    Swiss franc 1.232

    Norwegian kroner 7.771

    Canadian dollar 1.328

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    General

    [32] Three paintings stolen during National Gallery break-in, police report

    Three works of art were stolen during the dawn break-in at the National Gallery in central Athens on Monday, among them an extremely valuable painting by Picasso, according to the latest announcement issued by the Greek Police.

    The other exhibits stolen were another highly valuable 1905 landscape in oil by the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, depicting a windmill by a river, and a pen and sepia sketch on paper by the 17th-century Italian painter Guglielmo Caccia (Moncalvo), depicting the ecstasy of St Diego de Alcala with the Holy Trinity and the symbols of faith.

    The culprit or culprits also tried to take a fourth painting, a second Mondrian owned by the Gallery depicting a farmhouse, but dropped this in the courtyard outside the gallery while making their escape.

    The stolen Mondrian was bought and donated to the gallery by Alexandros Pappas in 1963, while the Caccia sketch was donated by Grigoris Maraslis in 1907.

    Police said the burglars had actually forced a back door of the gallery and deactivated the alarm-system circuits on the last day of an exhibition entitled "Unknown Treasures from the National Gallery Collection". The gallery was closed to the public on Monday for restoration work.

    The stolen Picasso was identified as the 1939 "Woman's Head" that was presented as a gift to the Gallery by the artist himself in 1940, in recognition of the Greek peoples resistance to the Nazi occupation, and was the only Picasso in the Gallery's collection.

    A police announcement said that the Gallery's motion sensor alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. on Monday and the security guard that went to investigate saw and gave chase to one man that he saw running out of the building but failed to catch him. Police estimate that approximately seven minutes elapsed from the moment the perpetrator or perpetrators entered the gallery until their departure.

    The guard then alerted the private security firm responsible for the alarm systems and the police.

    A police investigation showed that the culprits laid the groundwork for the break-in on Sunday evening at 19:58, forcing the aluminium balcony door and deactivating the alarm but leaving the door closed. Though the alarm had sounded at the time, a guard that went to investigate saw no one on the scene nor any sign of a break-in and simply turned off the alarm.

    The culprits then proceeded to trigger several false alarms without actually entering the gallery, so that each time the guard went to investigate there was no one there.

    In the final stage of the break-in, they opened the balcony door they had already forced open, entering the building from the back and removed the paintings from their frames.

    Police have taken footage from the museum's surveillance cameras for investigation and issued international warrants for the arrest of the suspects and the recovery of the stolen works of art.

    [33] Protest outside firm outsourced by PPC to cut off power for non-payment of bills

    Responding to a call from the Exarhia-Neapolis Social Solidarity Network, members of the "popular assemblies" in the Athens districts of Petralona, Thissio, Kypseli, Patissia, Kallithea, Ilioupolis and members of the "I Won't Pay" movement gathered for a protest outside the offices of a private firm outsourced by the Public Power Corporation to cut off the electricity of people in arrears with their bills, including a large property tax imposed by the government.

    Dozens of people gathered to express their opposition to the practice and entered the firm's offices, asking its employees to stop executing the orders to cut off electricity supply.

    The company's manager claimed that the PPC had suspended orders to cut off electricity for people unable to pay the special property tax but that crews were continuing to cut off supply to homes and businesses in arrears with past bills.

    [34] Flock of 83 sheep stolen in Sagiada

    A flock of 83 sheep was stolen by Albanian nationals from a sheepfold in Sagiada in Thesprotia, north-western Greece, on Sunday and was led to the neighbouring country through a border crossing.

    The Greek police notified the Albanian police that started investigations and located the flock in the region of "Sedeli" in Sarande on Monday, where one of the perpetrators was arrested, while his accomplices are being sought and whose identity is known by the neighbouring country's police. The sheep will be returned to their owner.

    [35] Man charged for fatal hit-and-run in Peloponnese

    Police on Monday charged a 32-year-old man for a hit-and-run accident that occurred on the Patras-Tripolis national highway two days earlier.

    The road accident occurred in the region known as 'Mastrantoni' when a truck driving from Tripolis to Patra was involved in a head-on collision with an oncoming car driven by a 35-year-old man in the opposite lane.

    The impact caused both vehicles to overturn and come off the road into a nearby field, while the driver of the car was fatally injured. The driver of the truck abandoned the scene of the accident and was later tracked down by police in Patras.

    [36] Minor earthquake in Thessaloniki

    A minor earthquake jolted Thessaloniki at dawn Monday, causing concern among local residents but no damage.

    The earthquake, registering 3.1 on the Richter scale, was recorded at 5:22 a.m., with its epicentre 5 kilometers northeast of the city center, in the region of Efkarpia.

    [37] Fire breaks out in downtown Athens hotel

    A fire broke out at 6 on Monday evening at the historic "Acropol Pallas" hotel, at the intersection of Patission and Averof streets, in downtown Athens.

    According to the Fire Brigade, the fire started on the ground floor of the seven-storey hotel, which is being renovated, from an unspecified cause and has reached the terrace through the staircase

    Building materials were mainly burning, while the big extent of the blaze was making the task of firefighting forces difficult.

    Weather forecast

    [38] Cloudy on Tuesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -3C and 12C. Cloudy with sleet in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 1C to 8C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from -2C to 7C.

    [39] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos' meetings with the party leaders backing his government, expected to focus on the course of the economy, the troika's (European Com-mission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund) pressure for the abolition of the Christmas and Easter bonuses in the private sector and the objective criteria on tax returns, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Fives landmines in Papademos' government...".

    AVRIANI: "National betrayal".

    DIMOKRATIA: "The minister with the ...chainsaw!! - Unbelievable gaffe by Koutroumanis (labour minister), who insists on cutbacks in auxiliary pensions but gives disability benefit to pedophiles, exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs and pyromaniacs".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Window for pensions up to five years earlier!".

    ESTIA: "Papandreou stuck on authority".

    ETHNOS: "The Christmas bonus a sacrifice to the troika's altar".

    IMERISSIA: "Solution for the PSI - Dual plan for the banks".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Objective criteria for tax returns".

    TA NEA: "Everything changes in building construction".

    VRADYNI: "When civil servants will receive their lump sum retirement benefit".

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