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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-12-22

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Zagora, a beautiful village on Mt. Pelion
  • [02] Moody's downgrades bond ratings
  • [03] Brown bear killed in Egnatia
  • [04] ASE opening: Big rise

  • [01] Zagora, a beautiful village on Mt. Pelion

    The village of Zagora on the eastern side of Mt Pelion, Magnesia Prefecture in central Greece, is known for the extraordinary beauty of its landscape and is regarded as an ideal destination for winter and summer vacations, offering a great variety of hotels and tavernas.

    The stone-built houses, the magnificent mansions, churches, fountains and stone bridges attract many visitors who enjoy the hospitality of the local people.

    Zagora is the largest and most important village on Mt Pelion ideally positioned for tourists who wish to visit the stunning beaches located a short distance away.

    Zagora is also famous for producing a great variety of fruits mainly apples as well as, sloes, plums, strawberries and pears.

    [02] Moody's downgrades bond ratings

    Moody's Investors Service on Tuesday downgraded Greece's government bond ratings to A2 from A1, with the rating action concluding the review for possible downgrade initiated by Moody's on 29 October 2009. The outlook is negative.

    This rating action does not affect the ratings of Greece's country ceilings for bonds and bank deposits, which remain Aaa (like the rest of the Eurozone).

    The rating action downgrading the Greek economy by just one category, the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) and bond market responded positively, with the ASE basic share price index posting a 2.55 percent rise at the opening of the trading session, standing at 2,172.55 points at 10:55 a.m., and turnover at 31.9 million euros. The bond market, in turn, opened with a decline in the spread bvetween the Greek and German 10-year bonds from 275 base points to 258 base points at the opening on Tuesday morning, considering the Moody's report on the Greek economy as mild.

    "Greece's repositioned rating of A2 balances the Greek government's very limited short-term liquidity risks on the one hand, and its medium- to long-term solvency risks on the other," says Sarah Carlson, Moody's lead sovereign analyst for Greece. Moody's notes that the country's longer-term risks have only partly been offset by the government's announced policy response.

    Moody's had initiated its review of Greece's A1 sovereign rating in response to mounting evidence that the government's long-term credit strength was eroding materially. In particular, the rating agency intended to assess the new government's policy intentions and its room for manoeuvre.

    "Moody's believes that Greece is extremely unlikely to face short-term liquidity/refinancing problems unless the European Central Bank decides to take the unusual step of making the sovereign debt of a member state ineligible as collateral for bank repurchase operations -- a risk that we consider very remote," says Arnaud Mar?s, Senior Vice President in Moody's Sovereign Risk Group.

    Moreover, as evidenced by other support operations within the EU, Moody's indicated that there are potentially other means to mobilize emergency liquidity funding should it be required -- but Moody's does not believe that this will be necessary.

    Moody's also does not believe that the Greek government's difficulties represent a vital test for the future of the eurozone, but rather a repricing of relative risks that had been concealed by years of abundant global liquidity and somewhat above-potential growth.

    "The Greek government's credit challenges are of a longer-term nature," explains Ms. Carlson. "They stem from a slow erosion in competitiveness and economic potential, which implies that the government's debt problem cannot be resolved by growth alone. They also result from chronically weak fiscal institutions, which cast a shadow over the government's ability to implement decisive fiscal retrenchment in order to restore debt sustainability."

    Furthermore, the combination of a global post-crisis environment that is less favourable to Greek public finance dynamics (with increased risk discrimination and muted global demand) and an equally challenging domestic environment (with accelerating demographic pressure on public finances in coming years) will make any fiscal adjustment increasingly difficult and costly to postpone. However, Moody's continues to think that a migration of liabilities from the banks' balance sheets to that of the sovereign is unlikely.

    Moody's acknowledges that last week's announcements by the Greek government clearly identify these weaknesses and pave the way for a lasting solution. However, the long-term credit standing of Greece will depend on the Greek population's acceptance of these measures and the government's vigorous implementation of them. "As neither of these can be taken for granted, and because these measures will also take time to bear fruit, Moody's has placed a negative outlook on the Greek government's new A2 rating," says Ms. Carlson.

    At A2, Greece's bond rating compares with those of other high-income but highly indebted countries that do not face external payment vulnerabilities. However, the rating is positioned well below those of Belgium, Ireland or Italy (which are rated at Aa1-Aa2) to reflect Greece's poor track record in terms of real fiscal adjustment. Greece's rating also remains higher than Baa-rated Mexico, Brazil or Hungary, all of which have better or similar debt metrics but much lower income levels. These countries also do not benefit from the protection against external payment crises afforded by Greece's membership in the European Monetary Union.

    Looking ahead, the question of whether the negative outlook will evolve into a stable outlook or into a further downgrade will depend on the Greek government's plan being followed through -- as demonstrated for instance by a sustained increase in tax revenues and/or the effectiveness in reining-in expenditure.

    [03] Brown bear killed in Egnatia

    female brown bear was killed by a vehicle on Monday on the Egnatia highway at the Siatista-Crystallopigi intersection . The 80kg bear was the tenth brown bear to be killed on the Egnatia highway in 2009. The animal climbed over the wire fencing along the motorway and was 'trapped' on the road.

    The driver abandoned the injured animal without notifying the police.

    The enviromental organisations Arcturos and Kallisto for the protection of wild animals, in a joint statement, stressed that most fatal accidents involving bears have been reported at this specific section of Egnatia, where special crossings for bears have not been constructed.

    Moreover, they said, there are no warning signs for passing drivers to alert them of possible bear crossings in order to reduce speed.

    "It is only a matter of luck that we have not had human victims as well," the statement concluded.

    The Greek brown bear is listed among the endangered species.

    [04] ASE opening: Big rise

    Equity prices were rising at the opening of trade on Tuesday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the basic share price index up 2.55 percent, standing at 2,172.55 points at 10:55 a.m., and turnover at 31.9 million euros.

    Individual sector indices were moving upward nearly across the board, with the only losses in Insurance, down 1.99 percent.

    The biggest gains were in Banks, up 3.70 percent; Financial Services, up 2.92 percent; Travel and Recreation up 2.88 percent; and Food and Beverages, up 2.88 percent.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks was up 3.09 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index was up 1.53 percent, and the FTSE/ASE-80 small cap index was up 1.56 percent.

    Of the stocks moved, 95 were up, 21 were down, and 22 were unchanged.


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