Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-12
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 12/02/1999 (ANA)
- Moody's upgrades Greek foreign currency debt, deposits
- Ten-year bonds jump on Moody's euphoria, soft money rates
- Stocks hit new record on credit rating upgrade for Greece
- Retail sales rise 5.8 pct in November
- Minister in Russia to resolve natural gas spat
- International bank conference to be held in Athens
- Greece has trade deficit of 11.2 bln euros in Jan-Oct 1998
- New radar upgrades Athens FIR control
- KYSEA to meet today on fighter aircraft procurement
- President Stephanopoulos to begin Austria visit on Monday
- Publication on Mt Sinai monastery presented in Athens
- Personal beliefs not persecuted in Greece, gov't says
- Euro-MPs urge Blair to return Parthenon Marbles
- Bulgari chooses Athens for premiere new leather collection
- Supreme Court rules on foreign companies in Greece
- Foreign exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Moody's upgrades Greek foreign currency debt, deposits
Moody's Investors Service, the US credit rating agency, has upgraded
Greece's Baa1 country rating for foreign currency debt and deposits to a
positive outlook from neutral.
Moody's said in a statement said the move reflected the economy's
successful progress towards convergence with the European Union and its
prospects for entry into the EU's economic and monetary union "in a few
Moody's rates Greece's domestic debt and foreign exchange deposits at Baa1
and the country's drachma debt at A2.
The news sparked euphoria among domestic market players, driving the Athens
Stock Exchange to a new all-time high and propelling bond prices to new
A new upgrade for the economy was likely within the year, traders
The government expressed its satisfaction at Moody's upgrading.
National economy ministry officials also hope for a higher rating within
The higher rating means that the government and the central bank will be
able to borrow from abroad under more favourable terms, including lower
In turn, cheaper loans will reduce debt servicing costs, easing pressure on
In another development, Bear Stears was quoted by Reuters news agency as
saying that buying opportunities existed in the Greek bond market.
Reuters also quoted the international house as saying that inflation would
drop sharply in the next three months.
In a report, Bear Stearns forecast that the drachma would gradually return
to its central parity of 353 against the euro in the European Union's
exchange rate mechanism, in effect after the drachma's devaluation in mid-
March last year.
Ten-year bonds jump on Moody's euphoria, soft money rates
Prices in the secondary bond market jumped yesterday on euphoria sparked by
a higher credit rating by Moody's for the country's debt, also boosted by
lower money market rates.
The 10-year bond expiring in 2009 traded at 103.00-103.25 (yield at 5.89
percent-5.85 percent), and the 10-year bond expiring in 2008 at 117.50-
117.75 (yield at 6.04-6.01 percent).
Electronic trade in the secondary bond market was brisk at 55 billion
The jump by fixed-income paper of 30-50 basis points followed a brief
period of consolidation when bond prices were lower.
Interbank rates were soft on high liquidity. Overnight funds were trading
at 9.40-9.90 percent.
The drachma slid against most major foreign currencies, correcting a rise
in the previous session.
It stood at 322.180 against the euro at the central bank's daily fix
against 321.780 a day earlier.
Stocks hit new record on credit rating upgrade for Greece
The decision by Moody's, the US credit rating agency, to upgrade Greece's
debt standing brought euphoria back to the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday,
driving share prices to new record highs.
The general index ended 3.08 percent up at 3,323.69 points, its 13th all-
time high this year. Turnover was 141.02 billion and volume 28,778,560
Sector indices scored gains across the board.
Banks soared 3.80 percent, Leasing was 2.53 percent up, Insurance jumped
4.96 percent, Investment increased 2.83 percent, Construction surged 3.31
percent, Industrials rose 2.57 percent, Miscellaneous ended 2.10 percent
higher and Holding rose 2.23 perc ent.
The parallel market index for small cap companies ended 2.11 percent up
while the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 3.26 percent to 2,113.08.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 275 to 17 with another 4 issues
Mytilineos, Viosol, Bank of Piraeus and Ergo Invest were the most heavily
A total of 107 share prices hit the day's 8.0 percent limit up. Among them
were Constantinidis, Bitros, Sato, Sigalas, Petzetakis, Remek, Eskimo, Esha,
Ergas and Techniki Olympic.
Aspis Invest, Doudos, Mohlos, Xifias, Mouriadis, Giannousis, Dimitriaids,
Pantechniki, Elfico and Sea Farm Ionian suffered the heaviest losses.
National Bank of Greece ended at 21,000 drachmas, Alpha Credit Bank at 35,
400, Ergobank at 24,815, Ionian Bank at 17,000, Titan Cement at 23,490,
Hellenic Petroleum at 2,290, Intracom at 16,000, Minoan Lines at 7,950,
Panafon at 9,700 and Hellenic Telecoms at 8,225.
Retail sales rise 5.8 pct in November
The retail sales index rose by 5.8 percent in November compared to the same
month in 1997, pushing the index to a 6.0 percent annual rate of growth in
January-November 1998, the National Statistics Service said yesterday.
The NSS said in a statement that the food index rose 7.1 percent in
November, footwear and clothing 6.8 percent, furniture and durable goods
2.5 percent, and miscellaneous products 9.3 percent.
Minister in Russia to resolve natural gas spat
Development Minister Vasso Papandreou yesterday began a two-day visit to
Moscow for talks with government and energy officials over a shortage of
Russian natural gas supplies to Greece.
Ms Papandreou has complained that too little gas is arriving into the
country's growing network, also questioning its quality.
Hit by the problems are industries connected to the gas supply and an
electricity generating plant of the Public Power Corporation at Lavrio,
The inadequate quantity and quality of the natural gas are seen by the
Greek side as breaching a contract signed by the two countries' gas firms,
DEPA of Greece and Gaz Prom of Russia.
Accompanying Ms Papandreou are senior officials of DEPA and Hellenic
Also on the agenda for talks are a slow-moving project to build a pipeline
to carry Russian oil to Greece.
International bank conference to be held in Athens
An international banking forum, which will bring together banking unions
from the Black Sea countries, Balkans and Mediterranean region, will be
held in Athens on February 14-16.
The forum, organised by the Hellenic Banks Association, will include
representatives from Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Israel, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Turkey,
Slovenia, Romania, Palestine, Lebanon and Greece.
The Hellenic association's secretary general, Ioannis Manos, will chair the
The chairman of the executive committee of the European Union Banking
Federation, James Bardon, will also attend.
It is the first such meeting in Europe to promote the activities of banking
federations, exchange information and seek ways of tightening links.
Greece has trade deficit of 11.2 bln euros in Jan-Oct 1998
Greece posted a trade deficit of 11.2 billion euros in January-October 1998
against 11.4 billion euros in the same period of 1997, Eurostat, the
European Union's statistics division, said yesterday.
Greek exports in January-October last year totalled 7.8 billion euros
against 8.4 billion in the same period of 1997, down 7.0 percent.
Greek imports in January-October 1998 totalled 18.9 billion euros, down 4.0
percent on 19.8 billion a year earlier.
New radar upgrades Athens FIR control
The Greek Civil Aviation Authority's (YPA) new ultra-modern radar was set
in full operation one minute past midnight, YPA said yesterday, considerably
upgrading control over the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).
YPA director Dionyssis Kalofonos issued a NOTAM to all international
organisations and airlines.
YPA's new radar system, comprising terminals in Pelio and on the islands of
Lefkas and Kythnos, increasing aircraft capacity in the air corridors to 15
from the previous five, as the required distance between airplanes is
reduced from 70 to 10 miles, YPA said.
KYSEA to meet today on fighter aircraft procurement
Prime Minister Costas Simitis had talks yesterday with the political
leadership of the defence ministry to prepare for today's meeting of the
Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence (KYSEA) which will focus
on the ongoing armaments programme of the Greek armed forces.
National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the main topic on
today's agenda will be the procurement of new combat aircraft within the
framework of long-term planning to boost the strength of the Hellenic Air
The main contenders for the lucrative contract are the US-manufactured F-16
and F-15, the French Mirage 2000-5, the Russian Sukhoy and the European
The choice of a medium-range anti-aircraft missile system and the purchase
of aircraft for training and transport will also be put to KYSEA for final
President Stephanopoulos to begin Austria visit on Monday
President Kostis Stephanopoulos expressed support for the assumption of
joint efforts by Greece and Austria for peace and security in the Balkans,
in an interview with the Austrian News Agency yesterday on the occasion
of the three-day official visit he will be making to Austria as of
February 15. It will be the first visit to this country by a head of the
Mr. Stephanopoulos expressed Greece's special satisfaction over the results
of the Austrian European Union Presidency during which, as he said, various
difficult issues were promoted such as the Agenda 2000, enlargement, the
euro and the combatting of unemployment.
Publication on Mt Sinai monastery presented in Athens
The Mount Sinai Foundation yesterday presented a publication on archaeological
finds in the monastery of St. Catherine's, during an event in Athens, in
the presence of Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Archbishop of
The volume, entitled "The Holy Monastery and the Archbishopric of Sinai.
The new finds" includes a chronicle of the discovery and excerpts of a
series of manuscripts found in the northern wall of the monastery 20 years
The manuscripts rival in importance the Dead Sea scrolls as they chronicle
the thousand year historical period of the Byzantine empire, hidden in one
of the very few monasteries not to be affected by the iconoclastic
"The manuscripts cover a time period, which includes all of the Byzantine
millenium and all the post- Byzantine period, while they stem from many
regions of the East," Mr. Venizelos said.
The monastic community has voiced its demand for the return of parts of the
finds from the British Museum.
Personal beliefs not persecuted in Greece, gov't says
Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas yesterday said that personal beliefs
were not persecuted in Greece.
Mr. Reppas was replying to questions regarding newspaper articles on the
sect "Concerned Christians" and whether their presence here was causing
concern to the government.
"Each person has a free choice on the elements that comprise his personal
life and his political beliefs" Mr. Reppas said, adding that "what matters
is that everyone lives in accordance with the law".
The spokesman said that Greek law protects citizens who do not commit
illegal acts and he clarified that nobody may turn against them, while
violators will be automatically confronted by the law and justice.
"We have not conducted any special investigations and we have no particular
reason to be concerned" Mr. Reppas said, adding that "a lot has been
written about this issue, however, it is not confirmed by the facts".
Euro-MPs urge Blair to return Parthenon Marbles
The European Parliament has written to British Prime Minister Tony Blair
urging him to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece, assemby members said
The parliamentrary petition said opinion polls showed that a substantial
majority of Britons favoured handing them back.
On January 15, 339 of 626 Eurodeputies signed the statement of British Euro-
MP Alfred Lomas, fervent supporter of the Greek petition, followed by an
unprecedented decision by the European Parliament for the reutrn of the
Parthenon friezes arguing that this "would constitute a crucial move for
the promotion of our common European cultural heritage" .
Bulgari chooses Athens for premiere new leather collection
The world premiere of the new Bulgari collection of leather accessories and
silk goods will take place in Athens on Sunday, in the context of events
marking the twinning of the Greek capital and Rome.
Rome Mayor Francesco Rutelli will be the guest of honour at the opening of
the new Bulgari-Kaissaris shop at 8 Voukourestiou street, to be inaugurated
by Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, when the new collection will be put
on display for the first time.
Bulgari House president Paolo Bulgari will also be on hand for the premiere,
organised in cooperation with well-known Greek jeweller Costas Kaissaris,
who said the event was "in the spirit of cultural and economic cooperation
between these two historic cities of Europe".
The photographic exhibition "Fashion against AIDS" will also be on display
during the ceremony.
Supreme Court rules on foreign companies in Greece
A Supreme Court Plenum, overuling a previous decision taken by an appeals'
court, has said that a foreign company headquartered in Greece is subject
to adjudication before Greek law courts, whose competence and international
jurisdiction is determined on the basis of the location of the company's
The case concerned insurance premiums for a ship against risks at sea,
amounting to three million dollars, plus interest. The freighter "Mnimosyni"
sank on May 7, 1992 and the insurance risk was realised.
The company "Prometheus Maritime Corporation" which had insured the ship in
the interests of the shipowning company "Sanne-face Marine LMD" with Lloyds
in London requested that the insurance premiums be paid to the latter
However, the lawsuit was rejected by the appeals' court on the grounds that
the jurisdiction of Greek courts is not substantiated because the base of
the former company is in Liberia and of the latter in Cyprus and that of
the insurance company in London.
However, the first two companies are established and operate in the
northern Athens suburb of Kifisia, where their actual administration is
Scattered rain and storms will prevail in most parts of Greece today with
snow in the mountainous regions. Winds variable, moderate to gale force.
Intermittent rain in Athens with temperatures ranging between 7-14C.
Similar weather in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 4-8C.
Friday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 282.274
Pound sterling 458.562 Japanese yen (100) 247.355
French franc 48.723 German mark 163.410
Italian lira (100) 16.506 Irish Punt 405.811
Belgian franc 7.923 Finnish mark 53.754
Dutch guilder 145.029 Danish kr. 42.983
Austrian sch. 23.227 Spanish peseta 1.921
Swedish kr. 35.841 Norwegian kr. 36.982
Swiss franc 200.091 Port. Escudo 1.594
Aus. dollar 182.230 Can. dollar 189.492
Cyprus pound 549.310