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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 99-02-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


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
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


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 years".

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 highs.

A new upgrade for the economy was likely within the year, traders said.

The government expressed its satisfaction at Moody's upgrading.

National economy ministry officials also hope for a higher rating within the year.

The higher rating means that the government and the central bank will be able to borrow from abroad under more favourable terms, including lower interest rates.

In turn, cheaper loans will reduce debt servicing costs, easing pressure on the budget.

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 drachmas.

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 shares.

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 unchanged.

Mytilineos, Viosol, Bank of Piraeus and Ergo Invest were the most heavily traded stocks.

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, near Athens.

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 Petroleum.

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 forum.

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 Force.

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 Eurofighter.

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 approval today.

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 Greek state.

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 Sinai Damianos.

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 ago.

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 period.

"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 yesterday.

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 actual headquarters.

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 company.

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 being exercised.


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


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