|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-12-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 12 December 2012 Issue No: 4245
 Greek debt buyback programme 'technically successful', officials sayThe Greek debt management agency will publish the results of a debt buyback programme on Wednesday, before the opening of stock markets.
The book-building process closed at noon on Tuesday, a finance ministry official told AMNA after a Eurogroup teleconference meeting late on Tuesday, adding that "the book will not reopen". The official said the process was "technically successful" although he refrained from giving details.
During the teleconference, Greece presented the outcome of the buyback programme, the official said, adding that "there were no decisions, only a briefing of our partners. Technically the process was successful, but the issue is to be politically approved (at the Eurogroup's meeting) on Thursday". The official said that the meeting will assess the impact of the buyback programe on the sustainability of the Greek public debt and discuss the release of additional funds to Greece to finance the buyback programme.
According to international media, the buyback process raised more than 31 billion euros. A report by Reuters, citing eurozone sources, said that the average price for the bonds was 33.5 cents per euro, slightly higher than estimates, a development which will be not enough to reduce the country's debt to 124 pct of GDP in 2020.
 Greek FM satisfied over fYRoM accession prerequisiteBRUSSELS (AMNA/M.Spinthourakis)
Representing Greece at the European Union's General Affairs Council in Brussels on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos expressed satisfaction over Europe's commitment to enlargement and over the resolution of the name issue for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) before accession negotiations can begin.
In statements to the press at the end of the meeting, Avramopoulos said that Greece sees expansion of the EU's membership as one of the EU's most important strategies and "a tool to establish peace, stability, safety and development" during an era when one sees "an upsurge in nationalism in many Balkan countries."
Speaking of fYRoM's application for membership to the EU currently under consideration, the Greek minister said it was the first time that the Council decided unanimously and explicitly that a resolution on the country's name constitutes a prerequisite for accession negotiations and a factor of continuing good neighbouring policy with Greece.
He said that the Council would use the European Commission report, expected this coming spring, to evaluate the steps fYRoM needs to take to find a solution within the framework of negotiations conducted by the United Nations on the name issue, and that accession talks will begin only after a solution is found. The conclusions of Tuesday's meeting also include the EU's support of a Greek proposal to Skopje for the signing of a memorandum of understanding related to the name.
"The EU spoke today in a single voice," Avramopoulos said, "and sent a clear message to Skopje. It is a positive and earnest message. We hope that Skopje will take the necessary steps and participate in a constructive way in negotiations under the UN auspices."
 Government must go, main opposition SYRIZA leader tells party MPsMain opposition 'Coalition of the Radical Left' (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday repeated his party's readiness to take over the reins of power and stressed that the present government must go, while addressing a meeting of SYRIZA's Parliamentary group.
"The only thing that must now be done using emergency procedures is not to pass pro-Memorandum laws but to get rid of this government that is casting the country and the people into misery," Tsipras said.
A national salvation government with SYRIZA at its core is "coming as a necessity and no one can stop it," he added, stressing that SYRIZA was ready to take on the task of "stopping the destruction of the country" and proceed with rebuilding the shattered economy.
He underlined that nothing could stop this happening, even if the government went ahead with planned changes to electoral laws toward simple proportional representation.
"Suddenly, they are hankering for simple proportional representation. Let them bring it tomorrow. Whatever they do, they will only succeed in fuelling our people's desire for a great political change," the main opposition leader said.
Attacking the government coalition, he accused it of "religious devotion" to the German government's plans to convert Greece into a 'Special Economic Zone'.
An earlier party announcement also slammed the finance minister's intervention to continue collecting a property surtax via electricity bills, in spite of court decisions finding that the forced levy of the tax in this manner was unlawful.
"This proves that the memorandum coalition government will stop at nothing, neither court decisions nor laws," SYRIZA stressed, but was prepared to do anything to "wipe out working people financially and throw them destitute into the nets of savage exploitation and the dark ages of labour".
 Gov't spokesman addresses visiting EU journalistsThe government is aiming to fix distortions of the economy in multiple sectors, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told a working luncheon of 36 European journalists on Tuesday, naming the markets of products, services, labour and capital, and the public sector including bureaucracy.
Kedikoglou spoke of Greece having "regained credibility" and "removed drachmophobia" after securing the release of the next loan tranche from the EU/IMF/ECB troika, and said the next target was to create "a new, competitive and modern economy." The government is determined to neutralise recession and transform the country in all sectors while supporting social cohesion and democratic principles, he said.
The journalists - from Belgium, Esthonia, Ireland and Slovenia - are invitees of the European Commission office in Greece and will meet with politicians, other journalists and business and labour representatives to learn more about Greece and the European Commission's work here.
 Draft bill for abolition, merger of public-sector agencies tabled in ParliamentAn administrative reform ministry draft bill for the abolition and merger of various public-sector agencies, both in the civil service and the broader public sector, was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday. The bill also creates a general secretariat "to coordinate the government's work" and other measures. The draft bill will now go before the appropriate Parliamentary committee for processing.
 New tax law draft to be tabled in Parliament, sourcesThe new tax law draft will be tabled in Parliament on Friday, according to sources that quoted the Finance Ministry programme.
 Centrifugal tendences within Ind. Greeks continue; Zois, Manolis departIndependent Greeks party president Panos Kammenos on Tuesday accepted the resignation of the party spokesman Christos Zois, as the ongoing crisis in the opposition party continued.
"I thank Christos Zois for his contribution all this time. It is true that the path we have chosen is a difficult and dangerous one for the establishment. We are continuing," Kammenos said.
Zois submitted his resignation earlier on Tuesday, quoting excerpts from his statement on March 19, 2012 concerning his reasons for joining the party and saying that his decision to depart was clinched by Kammenos' statements during a radio interview on Tuesday morning that "made me abandon all hope".
"No one can converse with 'chaos', with unreliability, with hypocrisy and double-talk," Zois said, referring to the need to protect the country from "irrelevant and even dangerous ideas" that had recently emerged, while wishing the best of luck to colleagues that he had worked with at the party.
Apart from Zois, former New Democracy deputy Ioannis Manolis also announced his decision to quit Ind. Greeks on Tuesday.
 Deputy finmin: Deal with Swiss on taxing deposits possibly in 2013Provided all goes well, Greece should be ready to sign an agreement with Switzerland for the taxation of Greek deposits in that country by early 2013, Deputy Finance Minister George Mavraganis said in Parliament on Tuesday. He was speaking to Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee during a discussion on two draft bills modifying existing rules for avoiding double taxation with Belgium and Switzerland.
Opposition MPs on the committee criticised the proposed modifications, saying that they did little to improve the extremely limited framework for exchanging information on such issues.
 President briefed on energy cooperation, efforts to exploit mineral wealthDeputy Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Makis Papageorgiou on Tuesday briefed President Karolos Papoulias on Greece's relations and its cooperation with other countries in the energy sector, as well as efforts underway to exploit the country's metal and mineral wealth.
The minister noted that it was now becoming apparent that Greece had significant wealth in mineral deposits, which the greater needs generated by the crisis had helped bring to light, creating the opportunity to do significant things with regard to energy and mineral wealth, in particular.
 Initiative to prevent release of dangerous criminals due to delays in bring cases to trialJustice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis on Tuesday announced an initiative to modify the existing legal framework in order to avoid the release of potentially dangerous criminals from prison due to the expiration of the 18-month period for they can be held on remand pending trial.
His decision was prompted by the recent release of a prisoner held for the double homicide of two police officers in Rendi and other cases where delays in the judicial investigation and start of a trial resulted in the release of criminals wanted for serious criminal offences of major public interest from prison.
Roupakiotis said that he will immediately table an amendment in Parliament modifying trial rules so that the pre-trial proceedings for such controversial cases, including the main investigation and the process involving judicial councils, must be completed within a set period of time, followed by the setting of a trial date as a priority.
Under the new rules, the examining magistrate's investigation must be completed within six months and a trial hearing set within one year. In order to enable this to happen, difficult cases will be assigned to two or more examining magistrates at a time and a public prosecutor will set a trial date by priority, not more than 40 days after the documentation for a case is transferred.
More importantly, the ability to keep these deadlines will be a decisive factor for the promotion of public prosecutors and justices.
 Lawyers in various cities to strike until Dec. 14Thirty-three of the country's 63 bar associations have decided to go on strike until Dec. 14 to protest the new draft tax law and other new regulations affecting their sector.
The strike will affect lawyers in cities throughout Greece, except Athens and Thessaloniki.
 Archbishop, labour minister discuss ways to assist Church welfare workThe welfare work done by the Church of Greece was the main focus of a meeting between Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos and Labour Minister Yiannis Vroutsis on Tuesday. The archbishop also repeated his objections to measures allowing shops to open on Sundays.
Arriving at the meeting, Vroutsis stressed that the ministry strives to be close to society during the current difficult period and to act as a support for the Church.
In comments after the meeting, the minister said that they had focused especially on the significant welfare work done by the Church, expressing the ministry's appreciation for the Church's role, "especially under the difficult conditions experienced by the Greek people".
"As labour ministry we looked at ways and processes through which we can support this work using Community funds, the soup kitchens for the poor, the social pharmacies and surgeries, the homeless shelters. All these things are opening for the labour ministry and we will help the Church become more actively involved in these programmes," he added.
The archbishop noted that the country was going through difficult times that the Church was striving to alleviate through its assistance but had certain needs, especially in terms of finding people and working hands.
"We discussed this today with the minister, exchanged views and proposals and I would like to thank him because if we proceed toward this goal our work will become much better," he stressed.
Replying to questions about newly announced measures allowing shops to open on Sundays, the archbishop expressed his opposition to the measure.
"We spend our time dealing with numbers and forget our soul. When will shop keepers see their children, when will they see their families, when will they rest and regain their strength," he noted.
 Political figures' 'means and assets' statements uploaded on parliament's websiteThe 'means and assets' statements of 508 political figures for 2010 (financial year 2011) were uploaded on parliament's website on Tuesday, where they will remain for a month, until January 11, 2013.
The statements of the 508 political figures required to submit them, including MPs and political party leaders, were submitted to the relevant parliamentary committee on the finances of parties, which said that in certain instances further clarifications and documentation were sought.
The audit on the statements aimed at ascertaining whether on the basis of the information declared the acquisition of new assets or increase in existing assets was justified by the specific individual's revenues in conjunction with his/her living expenses.
 'Those who fear the new will not keep Greece in the past"The government will hold dialogue with all the interested sides, but will not allow those who fear the new, frequently without reason, to keep Greece in the past, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks minister Costis Hatzidakis said on Tuesday, commenting on negative reactions from the business community over the ministry's intention to allow shops to open on Sundays.
According to the ministry proposal, shops with an area of up to 250 square meters, except those belonging to chains, will have the option of opening on all Sundays in the year, while large stores (over 250 sq.m.) will be able to work up to seven Sundays a year, again optionally.
"We aspire to making the market more contemporary, more European, more consumer-friendly. A big change is being made based on the European experience. We are giving the ability to large enterprises to work more, and to the smaller businesses to work even more. We are giving the consumers -- Greeks and tourists -- the ability to freely make their purchases," Hatzidakis told the 12th International Venture Capital & Private Equity Forum taking place in Athens.
Hatzidakis also announced that the disbursement of loans to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) with funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB) are beginning immediately, adding that agreements between the EIB have already been signed while more are due to be signed within the week.
Together with the unblocking of the EIB funds, the measures for boosting liquidity also include the simplification of the NSRF (National Strategic Reference Framework) procedures, the unblocking of the National Fund for Business and Development (ETEAN) capital, implementation of the actions to boost exports, and the new development law which will be tabled soon in parliament, he continued.
Hatzidakis further said that the procedures for setting up three venture capital funds were completed about three weeks ago, while completion of a fourth, in the context of the EU's JEREMIE initiative is expected. Through these venture capital funds, financing will be provided to businesses in the fields of information technology and communication from the NSRF funds, despite the negative economic situation, he added, noting that more than 20 private investors are participating in the above funds with capital that was expected to reach 21 million euro.
 Greece raises 4.3875 bln euro from T-bills auctionsGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned one- and three-month Treasury bills raising 4.3875 billion euro from the market. The Public Debt Management Organization, in a statement, said that an auction of 26-week Treasury bills, worth 1.250 billion euro, was 1.54 times oversubscribed. The organization accepted non-competitive bids worth 375 million euros, while the interest rate of the issue fell to 4.38 percent from 4.41 percent of the previous auction of same securities in November 6. The organization will also accept additional non-competitive bids up to 30 percent of the issue by Thursday. The auction was made with the market's primary dealers while settlement date was set for Friday, 14 December.
An auction of four-week Treasury bills, worth 2.125 billion euros, was 1.3 times oversubscribed. The organization accepted non-competitive bids worth 637.5 million euro while the interest rate of the issue was set at 3.99 percent, slightly up from 3.95 percent of the previous auction of same securities in November 13. Settlement date was set for Friday, 14 December. The organization will also accept non-competitive bids up to 30 percent of the asked sum by Thursday, 13 December.
 Wholesale trade index down 8.4 pct in Q3Greece' s wholesale trade index fell by 8.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012, compared with the same period last year, after a decline of 9.7 percent recorded in the third quarter of 2011, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the wholesale trade index fell 2.2 pct in the third quarter from the second quarter of 2012, compared with a 9.6 pct drop recorded in the corresponding period in 2011.
 PPC to continue collection of extraordinary real estate surtax in electricity billsThe extraordinary real estate surtax will continue to appear on electricity bills for collection via the Public Power Corporation (PPC), despite a court decision last week ruling that collection of the surtax via PPC bills was illegal.
PPC officials told AMNA on Tuesday that, following a letter to the PPC by Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Monday night, the surtax will continue to be collected via electricity bills.
An Athens First Instance Court last Tuesday (December 4) ruled that the collection of the extraordinary surtax on real estate via Public Power Corp. (PPC) electricity bills was illegal. The ruling, on a class-action suit filed by consumer groups and federations, was provisionally executable, meaning that PPC must stop collecting the surtax, even if an appeal is lodged by the state, until a higher court ruling is issued.
Two days later (December 6), the Finance Ministry and PPC management announced that the Greek state will challenge the ruling in an appeal to the Areios Pages (Supreme Court).
"For reasons of public interest, the PPC will proceed regularly with the collection of the real estate surtax (EETHDE), following the letter sent by the Finance Minister to the PPC to continue collection of the surtax," the PPC officials told AMNA.
Announcing the decision to challenge the ruling in the Supreme Court, the ministry instructed the PPC to continue collection of the surtax in the meantime.
It is recalled that the Council of State has ruled the real estate surtax as constitutional, but has prohibited the discontinuation of electricity to households that do not pay the surtax but only the amount corresponding to electricity consumption.
 PPC seeks increase in electricity rates up to 48.7 percentPublic Power Corporation (PPC) plans to raise households' electricity rates by 14.5 percent to 48.7 percent, to freeze a social household rate, a special rate for families with more than three children and to change the scale of energy charges.
PPC has submitted its proposals to the country's energy watchdog, seeking to raise electricity rates from 2013. PPC asked for a trade weighted increase in rates of 24.9 percent next year and to implement this new price policy in three stages: 10.8 percent on January 1, 6.3 percent on May 1 and 6.1 percent on July 1 when electricity rates will be fully liberalized.
The country's energy market watchdog believes that electricity rate increases are inevitable, but stressed that its recommendations to the government would be based primarily on what benefits consumers and the national economy.
 No hike in public transport fares in March, minister saysThere will be no increase in public transport fares in March, as originally envisaged, Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Kostis Hatzidakis announced during a press conference on Tuesday. Efforts are also being made to avoid any ticket hikes in October 2013, the minister added.
Hatzidakis said the ministry was trying to boost revenues for the transport system by clamping down on fare-dodging, which cost the Athens public transport system OASA an estimated 37.5 million euro a year in lost revenues. He noted that October 2012 was the first month in which ticket sales increased by 12 percent, while estimated sales in November increased by 4.7 percent with the exception of the six 24-hour strikes held during the month.
"The aim is to reduce fare-dodging by 50 percent. The troika was convinced that we are making efforts because of our revenues in one month but they expected a lasting effort," Hatzidakis told reporters.
The ministry hopes that an increase in ticket sales by 10 percent will generate savings of up to 25 million euro.
Hatzidakis announced that after the Epiphany holiday on January 6, passengers will be able to buy special discounted packets of 11 tickets for the price of 10 and these will have different colours so that they cannot be resold individually. Over the coming weeks, OASA will also introduce a multiple ticket for more categories of fares in a bid to reward conscientious passengers that pay their travel fares in full and give added incentives against fare-dodging.
The minister also announced plans to reorganise the OSY-STASY staff plan and transfer more people to ticket sales and ticket control but said that an electronic ticket system, capable of being topped up via credit card, the Internet or using a mobile phone, will not be introduced before 2014.
Concerning future extensions to the system, Hatzidakis said that the metro extension to Anthoupolis in western Athens will be completed in April, that to Elliniko to the southeast in July and the new station in Haidari (western Athens) the following September. The line 3 extension from Haidari (Agia Marina) - Piraeus is expected to be completed in 2017.
A contract for an extension of the tram line toward Piraeus will be signed next week while the Thessaloniki metro is currently struggling to overcome the contractor's liquidity issues.
Finally, he stressed that the ministry will implement the law imposing the uniform public-sector salary scale on public transport staff, in spite of their objections. "If there are injustices these will be dealt with but the law will not change," he emphasised. He also ruled out any prospect of abolishing bus lanes.
 Shipping executives defend tax incentives offered to the industryGreek merchant shipping executives on Tuesday said their industry was an international activity, operating through a grid of off-shore enterprises, while Greek shipowners, along with shipping companies, could not be an exception to this international environment.
Speaking to AMNA, the shipping executives said that if the government wished to abolish certain tax breaks offered to shipping companies it should first proceed with an amendment of article 107 of the Greek Constitution (protecting capital abroad) which offered tax advantages in order to attract shipping companies to Greece.
The executives stressed that if the government decided to tax shipping companies then the majority of them would have to relocate their base outside Greece. They noted, however, that several shipping companies have chosen to be based in Greece not only because of tax incentives, but because of the expert and capable personnel transporting the know-how of the sea in the land.
The shipping executives were commenting on a question tabled in arliament by seven main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party deputies over tax priviledges offered to shipping companies.
Merchant Marine Minister Costis Mousouroulis, addressing a forum organized by WISTA Hellas on "The Greek state and Greek shipping -can they pace together?", said that the shipping sector offered valuable funds to the country and reiterated the state's will to continue supporting the industry with all its powers.
 SEB chief: Annual growth of 3-3.5 percent needed to avert new measuresGreece's growth rate must return to 3-3.5 percent annually so that new painful, across-the-board measures will not be required and for the people's sacrifices not to go to waste, Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Dimitris Daskalopoulos told a Greek Public Administration Society (EEDE) event on Tuesday titled "Building the new Greece".
He noted that the venture would be very difficult, given that the state has gone bankrupt and can no longer guarantee growth, which today can only come from the private sector.
Daskalopoulos said that with the recent Eurogroup decisions, there was a realistic prospect to re-build Greece, and another opportunity to break the vicious circle of dependence on loan tranches.
However, he added, Greece cannot negotiate more help from its partners, and the ball was now in Greece's court. "It is our responsibility to put the banking system back on its feet, to complete the fiscal adjustment with socially just terms, to put Greece back on a growth track with our own decisions and with our own strength," he said.
Daskalopoulos reiterated his criticism of collusion, saying that it was inevitable that the state-dependent economy would breed state-dependent businesses. "A sector of the businesses world that used to live with the collusionary privileges of the state -- and was hostile to change because this would discomfort it or threaten its members, had become 'accommodated' in the warm lap of the state, without transparency or competition," he said.
On the other hand, Daskalopoulos said that the majority of the business community, "which works hard to remain standing in these difficult years, continues to produce and plan, uncomplainingly pays taxes and contributions, has preserved jobs, fights alone against the crisis, investing in a better tomorrow", must take the reins of growth into its hands.
 Employment prospects remain negative, Manpower reportEmployment prospects remained negative in Greece for the third consecutive year, a Manpower survey said on Tuesday.
Manpower, in a report, said however that employment prospects improved in five out of a total nine economic activity sectors in the first quarter 2013, compared with prospects in the fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2012. Northern Greece presented the most pessimistic prospects, with employment prospects down 18% in the first quarter of 2013 and intention for new hirings remaining negative. The Attica region showed a 10 pct decline in new hiring prospects in the first quarter of next year, however, hiring intentions were up compared with the second quarter and the first quarter of 2012.
The tourism, wholesale and retail sales sectors recorded the most pessimistic forecasts over employment prospects in the first three months of 2013, followed by the sectors of agriculture, electricity, naturas gas and water. The public sector and social services sector recorded more optimistic employment prospects, Manpower said.
 Building activity down 46.6 pct in SeptBuilding activity (volume) in the private sector shrank by 46.6 pct in September this year, while a further drop in the number of building permits issued in the same month created a more negative outlook for the industry.
The size of private building activity in the country totaled 1,438 permits in September, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday, down 60.6 pct from the same month last year, while building activity measured in volume dropped by 46.6 pct over the same period.
Building activity was down 32.1 pct in the January-September period (measured in permits) and by 26.3 pct in volume.
 Turnover in Greek car sector down 27.2 pctTurnover in the domestic car sector dropped 27.2 pct in the third quarter of 2012, compared with the same period last year, after a 6.7 pct decline recorded in the same period in 2011, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The turnover index was down 2.0 pct in the third quarter compared with the second quarter of 2012. The composite index measures all activities in the car sector (sales, maintenance and repair).
The turnover index in the car sales category fell 32.4 pct in the third quarter compared with the same period last year, and a 2.1 pct decline from the second quarter of 2012.
 AMNA inaugurates new service; first study focuses on port of Piraeus and CoscoPiraeus, Greece's main port is being transformed. China's COSCO is investing in the port, with the vision of turning Piraeus into the 'Singapore of Europe'. AMNA Web TV's camera has recorded the targets of the Chinese giant's chief executive of the Piraeus Cargo Terminal, Captain Fu Cheng Qui Fu, who stresses the need for extension of the rail networks.
Does COSCO intend to invest in the rest of the port, too, which today is managed by the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP)? AMNA speaks with representatives of the port employees, and examines the prospects opening up from the agreement with Hewlett Packard and TrainOSE to use Cosco's cargo terminal in the port of Piraeus as a hub to distribute the electronics giant's products in central Europe, Middle East, North Africa, the eastern Mediterranean and eastern Europe. How do the Greek shipowners view the prospects opening up for the country's largest port?
The study by AMNA and George Kouvaras will be uploaded on AMNA's main web page on Wednesday.
With this study, AMNA inaugurates a new service addressed to television stations and website.
More information is available from AMNA's marketing department, at tel: 210-6400560.
 Greek stocks end 2.28 pct higherGreek stocks ended sharply higher on the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as the market reacted positively to news of a successful completion of a debt buy back programme, a development which paves the way for the release of an aid tranche during Thursday's Eurogroup meeting. The composite index of the market jumped 2.28 percent to end at 872.03 points, the highest closing since October 26. Turnover was a moderate 62.16 million euros.
The Big Cap index ended 2.32 percent higher and the Mid Cap index ended 1.68 percent up. Utilities (6.57 percent), Raw Materials (5.27 percent) and Personal Products (4.41 percent) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Commerce (1.79 percent) and Technology (0.76 percent) suffered losses.
PPC (7.54 percent), Jumbo (5.87 percent) and Alpha Bank (5.03 percent) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Folli Follie (1.80 percent), Cyprus Bank (1.40 percent) and Titan (0.87 percent) were top losers. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 109 to 50 with another 18 issues unchanged. Dromeas (29.68 percent), Mathios (27.49 percent) and Hellenic Sugar (25.74 percent) were top gainers, while Alsinco (19.91 percent), Attica Holdings (19.44 percent) and HOL (18.86 percent) were top losers
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.80%
Personal & Household: +4.41%
Raw Materials: +5.27%
Travel & Leisure: +1.51%
Food & Beverages: +2.53%
Financial Services: +2.45%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.67
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.56
HBC Coca Cola: 17.00
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.93
National Bank of Greece: 1.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.70
Bank of Piraeus: 0.39
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 13.75 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 15.07 pct and the German Bund 1.32 pct. There was no turnover in the market. Greek bond prices have risen substantially since the country announced a debt buy back programe.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate fell to 0.55 pct, the six-month rate eased to 0.33 pct, the three-month rate was 0.18 pct and the one-month rate was 0.11 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 27.892 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,695 contracts worth 14.763 million euros, with 32,998 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 59,782 contracts worth 13.129 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (15,056), followed by Alpha Bank (8,732), Piraeus Bank (6,179), Cyprus Bank (2,829), MIG (4,253), OTE (4,446), PPC (3,272), OPAP (6,401), Cyprus Popular Bank (1,285), Mytilineos (957), Sidenor (680), Eurobank (1,422), GEK (1,351), Ellaktor (1,057) and Intralot (1,193).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.318
Pound sterling 0.819
Danish kroner 7.571
Swedish krone 8.774
Japanese yen 108.72
Swiss franc 1.229
Norwegian kroner 7.447
Canadian dollar 1.301
Australian dollar 1.256
 Ski resorts in Greece openThe snowfall in northern Greece combined with the low temperatures gave the opportunity to a large number of ski resorts to open before the Christmas holidays.
The snow season was inaugurated last weekend at the ski resorts of Karpenissi, Vassilitsa, Pisoderi and Kaimaktsalan.
The thick snow that has fallen has covered the pistes in white and the skiers can now enjoy their downhills not only on the weekends but throughout the entire week.
The ski resorts of Kalavryta and 3-5 Pigadia have completed maintenance work and are ready to open, probably this weekend if the snow coverage is satisfactory.
Moreover, the works at the ski resorts of Seli, Elatohori, Metsovo and Falakro have been completed and they are ready to open in the coming days.
 Powerful females of antiquity featured at Cycladic MuseumTwenty-four high-born females whose lives span 500 years will be featured through their burial findings at a Museum of Cycladic Art exhibition opening on Thursday and running to April 10, 2013.
Titled "Princesses of the Mediterranean at the Dawn of History," the show will feature artefacts such as jewellery, clothes and fragments of furniture from burials of princesses, aristocrats and priestesses dated to 1000 B.C.-500 B.C. and discovered in Greece, Cyprus and Italy. Specific burial sites include Athens, Oinopia (present Aegina), Eleutherna (in northwest Crete), Sindos (near Thessaloniki) and Tuscany in western Italy.
 Organ donation law slated for 2013 will allow opting outGreek citizens will be able to opt out of having their organs donated after death once a new blanket law of "Presumed Consent" goes into effect on June 1, 2013, the National Transplant Organisation (EOM) said on Tuesday.
Responding to online reports, EOM said that there is no deadline for opting out. Citizens will also be able to exempt their underage children. The law is strict on donations, and no organ may be removed from cadavers without family consent, the agency noted.
 Temperature drop on WednesdayOvercast gradually turning to rain and local thunderstorms throughout Greece, improving at the Aegean Sea while continuing at night in the rest of the country and turning to light snow in the north. Northerly winds in central and northern Greece, westerly in the south, from 4 Beaufort rising to 8 at sea but dropping gradually throughout the country. Temperatures as low as -4C (8C at the Aegean) to 16C. In Athens, the same, with temperatures from 3C to 16C. In Thessaloniki, the same, with temperatures 0C to 8C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe changes to shop working hours, the completion of the bonds buy-back procedure and the new tax bill to be tabled on Tuesday in parliament as well as the imminent increase in PPC electricity rates, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
AVGHI: "Sunday holiday a prey to the market".
DIMOKRATIA: "Government looting the large families (with more than three children), too".
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "Lights off".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "PPC demands 30 percent rate increase".
ESTIA: "The strangling of the economy".
ETHNOS: "New map on working hours, fuel and market".
IMERISSIA: "The market opens - Landmark decision on small shops' operation on all Sundays".
KATHIMERINI: "Open on Sundays, too".
LOGOS: "Abolition of Sunday holiday the final blow".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Small shops open on Sundays".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Hands off of the Sunday holiday".
TA NEA: "End to tax returns!".
6 DAYS: "Reduction of university schools and number of students".
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ANTONIS SKYLLAKOS