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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-10-09

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 09/10/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Inflation rises to 5.2 pct yr/yr in Sept,seen falling in October
  • Greek stocks dive 5.23 pct, pummelled by inflation rise
  • Retail sales volume rises 2.3 pct in July
  • Bourse suspends DANE Sea Line after failed share cap rise
  • Bourse turnover totals Dr 19.8 trillion in Jan-Sept
  • Greek economy will endure int'l crisis if policy remains steadfast
  • KYSEA meeting today to examine armaments programme
  • Prospects for Greek-South African defence cooperation examined
  • Turkish attempt to include occupied Cyprus in energy map rebuked
  • G. Papandreou: Athens committed to peaceful solution in Kosovo
  • Greece fails in bid for non-permanent seat at UN Security Council
  • Racetrack site picked for new museum of modern art
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Inflation rises to 5.2 pct yr/yr in Sept,seen falling in October

Consumer price inflation rose to 5.2 percent year-on-year in September, up from 5.0 percent in August, but is likely to drop below 5.0 percent in October, the Greek National Statistics Service (GNSS) said yesterday.

Fuelling September's rise in the consumer price index were a return to normal prices after the summer sales; and price rises in consumer durables, education fees and foodstuffs, especially vegetables, which posted the highest increase. The CPI rose by 1.9 percent for the month against a 1.7 percent increase in September last year.

According to GNSS, a decline in inflation to the government's target of 4.5 percent in December is still feasible.

On Wednesday, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank that 1998 inflation would fall to an estimated 4.8 percent.

GNSS secretary general Nikos Karavitis told reporters that the outlook for October was healthy as inflation was likely to feel the impact of several government measures:


A drop in gasoline tax in the second half of September that had not filtered through to retail prices by the end of that month, and was expected to bring a decline of 0.3 percent to the CPI
A reduction by more than half of a heating oil tax from October 15
A price decline in selected goods agreed with supermarket owners in a government-sponsored deal

Greek stocks dive 5.23 pct, pummelled by inflation rise

Greek equities plunged 5.23 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday hit early in the session by declines in European markets, and again in the last half hour of trade by a surprise increase in September's inflation.

The general index lost 101 points to end at 1,829.55 points in thin trade. Turnover was 28.8 billion drachmas on 7,276,000 shares traded.

Consumer price inflation in September rose to 5.2 percent year-on-year from 5.0 percent in August.

Indices ended lower led by a 6.2 percent drop in the heavily weighted banking sector.

Insurance fell 1.90 percent, Investment ended 3.36 percent off, Leasing fell 2.56 percent, Industrials plunged 4.67 percent, Construction eased 4.23 percent, Miscellaneous dropped 5.93 percent and Holding fell 5.48 percent.

The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 3.14 percent off.

Broadly, decliners led advancers by 225 to 22 with another 7 issues unchanged.

Retail sales volume rises 2.3 pct in July

The volume of retail sales rose by 2.3 percent in July, the Greek National Statistics Service (GNSS) said yesterday.

Volume for January-July was 1.2 percent higher than the same period of last year, GNSS said.

Bourse suspends DANE Sea Line after failed share cap rise

Athens Stock Exchange president Spyros Kouniakis yesterday announced a temporary suspension of trade in DANE Sea Line following an abortive share capital rise that produced only 3.5 percent of funds sought. The decision was welcomed by DANE's board, which said in a statement that the freeze would protect the firm's share price in the aftermath of successive 8.0 percent limit downs in the last few days.

The suspension would protect both existing shareholders and other investors until DANE had completed evaluation of partnership proposals submitted to Mr. Kouniakis on Wednesday, the company said.

The board reassured shareholders it would act wisely on their behalf and ensure better conditions in the company's coastal shipping services to the Dodecanese islands.

Bourse turnover totals Dr 19.8 trillion in Jan-Sept

Turnover at the Athens Stock Exchange was 19.8 trillion drachmas in January- September, or 16.5 trillion drachmas less buyback deals and block trades.

Ranking top among brokerages on the basis of turnover in the same period was National Securities, a subsidiary of blue chip National Bank of Greece, at 1.8 trillion drachmas, holding 9.06 percent of the market. Ranking top on the basis of turnover le ss buyback deals and block trades was Sigma Securities at 1.1 trillion drachmas, or 6.54 percent of the market.

In September, the bourse's turnover was 1.86 trillion drachmas, or 1.5 trillion less buyback deals and block trades.

In the same month, Alpha Brokerage ranked top at 171 billion drachmas, or 9.17 percent of the market.

Ranking top on turnover less buyback deals and block trades was Sigma Securities at 89 billion drachmas, or 6.02 percent of the market.

Greek economy will endure int'l crisis if policy remains steadfast

Greece will continue its positive economic course, weathering out the ongoing crisis in international financial markets if the present economic policy is applied with consistency, National Bank of Greece Governor Theodoros Karatzas stressed in New York yesterday.

"Our economy is not exposed to the risks of other economies. It has no involvement in high-risk areas, such as the Far East, the former Soviet Union, or even Latin America, and so I forecast that the Greek banking system will not sustain the impact of e vents in recent weeks, such as other large banks exposed to high risks did. Generally, the Greek economy will continue its positive course, but we cannot ignore that it will remain exposed to the international environment, which will continue sustaining the repercussions of the crisis," he said in an interview with the New York- based Greek-American newspaper "Proini".

"For the good climate to continue, we need nothing else but a consistent continuation of the policy already applied and will lead to the attainment of its target, that is convergence," he added.

"I believe that at the end of next year we shall have fulfilled all the conditions in order to participate in Economic and Monetary Union with the inauguration of the third phase on Jan. 1, 2001," he stressed.

Further, he expressed the view that uncertainty in the global economy would continue for some time, but conditions were not as bad as appearing at first sight. "The global economy will be stabilised after a certain period and will be again led on its way to growth," he said.

He added that he agreed with the view that the IMF had become outdated in the face of current international economic developments, and proposed two plans, one short-term and one long-term for dealing with the situation.

Finally, Mr. Karatzas said Atlantic Bank, the National Bank's US subsidiary, had plans for expanding to a number of states in the United States, incorporating the Boston and Chicago branches and applying for listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

KYSEA meeting today to examine armaments programme

The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) will meet today to examine progress in the government's multi-million dollar five- year armaments programme, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said yesterday.

There was widespread speculation earlier in the week that the scheduled meeting might be postponed.

Mr. Reppas said on Tuesday that the meeting would be held only if it appeared that things had "matu-red" with regard to the main topic of the meeting, namely, armaments. The spokesman clarified yesterday that the meeting had been prepared following numerous telephone contacts on Wednesday by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

There is also a possibility that other issues will be discussed at the meeting, including the crisis in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, Mr. Reppas said.

Prospects for Greek-South African defence cooperation examined

Prospects for expanding cooperation between Greece and South Africawere examined on Thursday during a meeting between Greek National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and his visiting South African counterpart Joe Modise.

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said after the meeting that cooperation could be extended to encompass many fields, such as the social, political and economic sectors in addition to the defence industry, where "there will be better initiatives in the immediate future".

Mr. Modise expressed appreciation for Greece's support in S. Africa's struggle for democracy, and for the role of the large Greek community in South Africa in the country's economic development.

Mr. Modise said bilateral development in the armaments sector should be developed, and also in the commerce sector, giving as an example the import of olive oil from Greece.

The meeting also focussed on topics the two countries shared concern over, and considered priorities for, the future of the world, since Europe and Africa are now very close and the problems were mutual ones, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said.

The two defence ministers also said that South African president Nelson Mandela would visit Greece, but did not specify when or give any details.

Turkish attempt to include occupied Cyprus in energy map rebuked

An attempt by a spokesman of the Turkish natural gas utility Botas to present a power distribution map of Turkey that included the Turkish- occupied part of Cyprus, was met yesterday by a strongly worded reaction by a Hellenic Petroleum S.A. (HP) representative. The incident took place during an international conference on the development of the gasoline and natural gas market of the Balkans, held in Sofia. The HP representative expessed his disdain over the attempt to entangle political issues in a trade conference, even more so when such an attempt is made in disregard of international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions and against the Republic of Cyprus - an independent country and UN member.

In a related development, it was announced that a study on the Burgas- Alexandroupoli oil pipeline will be complete by the end of 1999, a project which is expected to provide the least expensive route for the transport of Caspian crude oil to the western markets.

G. Papandreou: Athens committed to peaceful solution in Kosovo

Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou reiterated yesterday evening that Athens wants to expend every effort for a peaceful solution to the Kosovo crisis.

In televised statements to a state-run channel, Mr. Papandreou said the issue was discussed during the European Conference on Tuesday in Luxembourg and on Wednesday during a Council of Europe meeting.

Finally, he said Greece will raise the issue again during a southeastern European leaders' summit in Turkey, scheduled for next month.

"...we hope that the Greek initiative with Bulgaria and Romania, the meeting with (Yugoslav leader Slobodan) Mr. Milosevic and the new prime minister of Albania will have some results," he said.

Greece fails in bid for non-permanent seat at UN Security Council

Greece yesterday failed in its bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 1999-2000 period.

The vote at the plenary of the UN Security Council went in favour of Canada and the Netherlands, which together with Greece belong to the western group.

Greece received 87 votes against 131 for Canada and 122 for the Netherlands.

Because the two other countries received more than two-thirds of the total of the 176 countries that voted, there will not be a second vote. The other three countries elected were Argentina, Malaysia and Namibia.

In Athens, a foreign ministry spokesman said Greece congratulates the two newly elected countries as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The spokesman, who was commenting on the outcome of the vote, said that Greece had made a systematic effort with all the means at its disposal.

"The fact that they give considerable development aide to third world countries operated in favour of our competitors," he said, adding: "We only started the effort at developing such programmes last year," Theodoros Theodorou said.

He said the issue raised by the Greek candidacy remained in that the same, namely, that countries returned periodically to the Security Council and, consequently, the representative nature of the body was not secured.

"Greece obtained considerable benefits from the promotion of its candidacy. It came into contact with tens of countries with which it had almost no relation until now and, of course, we will continue and utilise the relations which we developed during our pre-election campaign," he added.

Racetrack site picked for new museum of modern art

A new museum of modern art will be constructed on the site of the current Athens racetrack in the seaside suburb of Faliro, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said yesterday.

The ambitious museum project, Mr. Venizelos said, would be ready by 2004, when Athens hosts the Olympic Games.

The Vassilis and Eliza Goulandris Foundation initially revealed plans to build a museum of modern art in 1993. The project, budgeted then at seven billion drachmas, was designed by the famous Chinese-American architect I.M.Pei, and was originally located on a 10,830-square-metre lot, located between Vassilissis Sofias and Rigillis streets, which the Greek state had ceded to the foundation.

However, plans stalled when ground-breaking work on the lot in early 1997 revealed what is believed to be the palaestra (wrestling arena) of ancient Athens' Lyceum. An earlier proposal that the museum be built on the site of a disused brewery in central Athens was rejected, Mr. Venizelos said, citing what he called the concrete structure's unique place in Athens' industrial architectural history.

WEATHER

Scattered cloud will prevail in most parts of Greece on Friday with the possibility of showers in the northwest in the morning.

Winds will be variable, light to strong. Mostly fair weather in Athens where temperatures will range between 18-30C. Overcast in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 15-26C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 276.143 British pound 475.267 Japanese yen (100) 237.088 French franc 51.528 German mark 172.757 Italian lira (100) 17.479 Irish Punt 432.314 Belgian franc 8.370 Finnish mark 56.742 Dutch guilder 153.319 Danish kr. 45.485 Austrian sch. 24.563 Spanish peseta 2.032 Swedish kr. 35.772 Norwegian kr. 37.914 Swiss franc 214.366 Port. Escudo 1.683 Aus. dollar 171.021 Can. dollar 181.536 Cyprus pound 582.284

(L.G.)


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