Greek stocks on Friday ended significantly higher, helped by a wave of buying in blue chip stocks at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market rose 1.54 pct to end at 1,647.88 points, with turnover an improved 150.6 million euros, of which 10.6 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved higher, with the Financial Services (3.96 pct), Constructions (3.25 pct), Oil (3.16 pct) and Travel (2.78 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (4.70 pct), Insurance (3.84 pct) and Technology (1.71 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 2.16 pct, the FTSE 40 index fell 1.59 pct and the FTSE 80 index eased 0.15 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 100 to 96 with another 47 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +3.16%
Personal & Household: -1.27%
Raw Materials: +1.40%
Travel & Leisure: +2.78%
Food & Beverages: +0.97%
Financial Services: +3.96%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Public Power Corp (PPC) and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.35
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.70
HBC Coca Cola: 10.54
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.60
National Bank of Greece: 11.46
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.11
Bank of Piraeus: 4.70
Titan Cement Company: 16.54
ADEX closing report
The June contracts on the FTSE 20 index were trading at a significant discount (3.64 pct) in their debut in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover remaining a low 85.783 million euros. Volume in futures contracts on the Big Cap index totaled 15,964 contracts worth 63.513 million euros, with 31,566 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 56,671 contracts worth 22.270 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Popular Bankʼs contracts (17,340), followed by Eurobank (1,164), MIG (2,781), OTE (2,531), PPC (1,998), OPAP (1,991), Piraeus Bank (2,393), National Bank (5,017), Alpha Bank (8,297), GEK (3,337) and ATEbank (1,720).
Greek bond market closing report
Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 1.661 billion euros on Friday, of which 1.136 billion were buy orders and the remaining 525 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 320 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 268 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 5.66 pct and the German Bund 2.98 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.87 pct, the six-month rate 1.72 pct, the three-month rate 1.57 pct and the one-month rate 1.18 pct.
Foreign Exchange rates
U.S. dollar 1.365
Pound sterling 0.947
Danish kroner 7.511
Swedish kroner 11.144
Japanese yen 130.91
Swiss franc 1.541
Norwegian kroner 8.719
Canadian dollar 1.690
Australian dollar 1.984
*** The central Bank of Greece (BoG) on Friday released the latest Balance of Payments figures:
In January 2009, the current account balance showed a deficit of ?3,368 million, down by ?566 million year-on-year. This development reflects a contraction of the trade deficit. By contrast, the surplus of the services balance declined and the deficits of the income account and the current transfers balance grew.
The ?972 million decrease in the trade deficit reflects mainly a ?603 million drop in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships and, secondarily, a ?361 million fall in the net oil bill, while net payments for purchases of ships remained unchanged. Underlying the decline in the trade deficit excluding oil and ships was the fact that the import bill fell by ?807 million or 24%, i.e. more than the corresponding export receipts (which decreased by ?204 million or 18%).
The ?248 million reduction in the surplus of the services balance is mainly attributable to a narrowing of the surplus of the transport balance and, secondarily, a rise in net payments for other services. The widening of the income account deficit mainly reflects higher net interest, dividend and profit payments. Finally, the growth of the deficit of the current transfers balance is accounted for by lower net transfers to the “other” sectors (excluding general government), while net EU transfers to general government remained virtually unchanged.
*** The unemployment rate in Greece eased to 7.9 pct of the workforce in the fourth quarter of 2008, down from 8.1 pct in the corresponding period in 2007, the National Statistical Service announced on Thursday.
The service, in a report, said the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2008 was the lowest rate in the same quarter since 1998. The unemployment rate among women totaled 11.7 pct, more than double the 5.7-pct rate among men. Teens and young adults, aged 15-29, recorded the highest unemployment rate (16.5 pct).
The report said 86.7 pct of unemployed people were seeking a full time job, while the percentage of new unemployed (first time unemployed) was 34 pct of all unemployed persons, while the long-term unemployed (out of job for more than 12 months) stood at 47 pct of total unemployed.
*** Greece’s building materials’ price index rose 2.2 pct in February 2009, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 5.1 pct in February 2007, the National Statistical Service said on Friday.
The statistics service fell 0.2 pct in February from January 2009, after a monthly increase of 0.5 pct in January 2008.
*** Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Friday chaired a meeting of top PASOK cadres overseeing the party’s economic policy sectors, where the former charged that the greatest crisis today is the country’s lack of governance.
“With great concern we heard the prime minister today looking for an alibi instead of asking for forgiveness for real problems,” he said, charging that Greek Premier Costas Karamanlis is systematically distorting the truth and of unreliability.
He also said that seriousness and responsibility needed to combat the international economic crisis is lacking from today’s government.
Moreover, in commenting on EU-wide policy, Papandreou, the foreign minister in previous PASOK governments, chided what he called the “conservative majority in Europe,” saying it was unable to rise to the circumstances which the current crisis entails.
*** Public Power Corp. (PPC) chairman and CEO Panagiotis Athanasopoulos on Friday reiterated the Greek power utilityʼs intention to separate its transport and distribution networks, while he also referred to “speculative practices” in the Greek energy market.
Addressing an Economist conference in downtown Athens focusing on the energy sector, Athanasopoulos underlined the need for PPC to maintain a reasonable profit, while he added that the utility offered one of the lowest energy bills in Europe. He noted that PPC was recording the highest cost among all major European energy groups at 10 euros per MWh, citing delays in adopting common European regulations.
Addressing the same conference, Yiannis Costopoulos, the chief executive in Hellenic Petroleum, predicted a consolidation in the domestic fuel retail market in the next five years.
Costopoulos stressed that an economic crisis has cut demand for petrol by 0.5 pct and for diesel by 4.0 pct, although he noted that Hellenic Petroleum would invest heavily in a new refinery in the Elefsina district, west of Athens, to boost diesel production, as the groups expects a major increase in demand in the future.