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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-03-07
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Athens: public transport-work stoppages07/03/2000 20:36:35
Athens public transport employees are continuing work stoppages this week in demand for a collective labour agreement and the settlement of insurance issues.
Trains, green buses and trolleys will be affected.
There will be a work stoppage on Athens trains and green buses on Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Trolley work stoppages will take place on Thursday and Friday.
The work stoppage on Thursday will be from noon to 4 p.m. during which time the strikers will hold a general assembly to decide on further action. The stoppages on Friday will be from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 6.30 p.m to 8.30 p.m.
 Development Minister-Interview-Exclusive07/03/2000 20:25:23
The Greek economy suffered problems stemming from the increase in petrol prices, but the country˘s bid to join the European Monetary Union (EMU) was intact, Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday,
In an interview to the Athens News Agency the minister presented the framework of development of industry, trade and tourism, all three sectors of his ministry˘s responsibility.
?The predictions on the international oil prices are good. In any case Greece˘s entry into the EMU was not endangered,? Venizelos said, noting ?we achieved our aim and we are entering the EMU without reservations.?
?No problems were created for the consumers as a result of mergers,? he noted, adding that ?the mechanisms controlling competition are activated only in part?.
He said that ?electricity prices will not be increased as a result of the electric energy market deregulation.?
Finally, he stressed that the legislation regulating development needs to be amended, so as to boost private tourist infrastructure investments, adding that the basic policy aim was to assist the market forces, which should always have the initiative.
 Shipowners-Seamen-Pay Talks07/03/2000 19:23:17
The Union of Passenger Shipowners and Panhellenic Seamen's Federation on Tuesday failed to reach agreement in pay talks over a collective wage deal for 2000.
At the first meeting so far between the two sides, ferry owners rejected a demand by the union for a 7.0 percent rise and an increase in allowances and overtime pay.
 Athens Derivatives Market-Close07/03/2000 19:04:53
Equity futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Tuesday in line with the stock indices on which they are based.
On the Athens bourse, the FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 2.24 percent down; and the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index closed 5.8 percent lower.
Turnover rose slightly to 8.7 billion drachmas from 8.0 billion drachmas a day earlier and 6.3 billion drachmas on Friday.
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Wednesday07/03/2000 18:30:48
Following are indicative foreign exchange buying rates for commercial banks released by the central bank for the next working day.
U.S. dollar 344.591
 Weather Forecast-Wednesday07/03/2000 17:44:50
Sunny weather is forecast throughout the country on Wednesday. Winds northwesterly, light to moderate.
 Investment Bank of Greece-inauguration07/03/2000 16:49:25
The Investment Bank of Greece SA will begin its operation on Wednesday aiming to gradually develop into a financial group covering all banking activities in Greece and the wider Balkan region.
The bank's initial capital totals 26.5 billion drachmas with 63 founding shareholders from the business and shipping sectors.
At its first stage, the bank will focus its activity in private banking, corporate finance and treasury operations.
The bank will be based in Athens. Panagopoulos said that due to its specialised nature the bank did not plan to create a large retail banking network, although it plans to open two branches in Thessaloniki and Piraeus and expand its presence in Central Greece and Crete.
The Investment Bank of Greece plans to expand in the Balkans through its Thessaloniki branch.
 Papantoniou-inflation07/03/2000 16:27:07
The fulfilment of all EMU entry criteria by Greece was not only a political and economic success but it was also ensuring national interests, National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou told reporters after the publication of the February inflation figures on Tuesday.
Papantoniou noted that Greece was entering the euro with no political conditions or commitments.
Despite an unpleasant development in international oil prices, affecting all European states, the February inflation figure embodied a vital economic fact: that Greece easily fulfilled the fifth EMU convergence criterion in February, he said.
"It is an historic moment," Papantoniou stressed, "completing a six-year cycle of persistent and hard efforts by the Greek people with the aim of economic restructuring."
The road is now open to submit our entry application on Thursday, 9 March, he said.
 Greek harmonised figures-item 207/03/2000 16:13:40
Greece's harmonised consumer price index (used to measure the fulfilment of the EMU convergence criterion) was running at 2.1 percent in February, government officials said on Tuesday.
The government believes that harmonised inflation figures will rise in the European Union in February. The National Statistics Service will publish its official figures on March 20-21.
Nikos Karavitis, the NSS secretary-general, presenting the February inflation figures said that the core consumer price index fell in the month, a signal of a declining trend in inflation.
The CPI rose 2.9 percent in February compared with the same month last year. It was 0.2 percent lower from January.
The monthly fall was a result of a 3.1 percent decline in clothing-footwear, a 0.6 percent drop in domestic appliances and services and 5.8 percent fall in communications. Food and beverages and transports, however, rose 1.5 pct and 1.3 percent respectively in February.
 ASE-close07/03/2000 16:00:07
Equity prices came under severe pressure to end sharply lower on Tuesday pushing the general index below the 5,000 level for the first time in the last 25 sessions.
Dealers said news of a rise in the February inflation rate to 2.9 percent combined with rising international oil prices depressed sentiment in the market.
Shares in the Construction and smaller capitalisation sectors collapsed.
The general index ended at 4,941.30 points, off 3.12 percent. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended at 2,761.39 points, off 2.25 percent while the FTSE/ASE 40 index plunged 5.83 percent to 751.38 points.
Turnover was a moderate 232.08 billion drachmas.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks ended at 1,072.07 points, off 9.21 percent.
 CPI inflation-February figures07/03/2000 15:28:39
The Greek consumer price index rose to 2.9 percent in February compared with the same month last year, National Statistics Services said on Tuesday.
The February rise did not justify the government's expectations although the figure was much lower compared with the previous years.
Annual inflation was 3.7 percent in February 1999 and 4.3 percent in February 1998.
National Economy and Finance Minister, Yiannos Papantoniou, speaking to reporters after the release of the inflation data said that despite the unpleasant developments in the CPI course in February, Greece was definitely fulfilling the EMU convergence criteria.
 Bond auction results07/03/2000 15:04:00
Long-term yields fell substantially during a regular weekly bond auction by the Public Debt Management Organisation on Tuesday.
The average weighed yield of a 20-year state bond issue, worth 240 billion drachmas and paying an annual coupon of 6.50 percent, fell to 6.46 percent from 6.84 pct in the previous auction of same bonds in January.
Bids submitted the market's primary dealers totalled 393.5 billion, 1.64 times more than the asked sum, evidence of strong interest for Greek long-term securities. The organisation finally accepted bids totalling 271.5 billion drachmas.
The 20-year bond issue was a re-opening of an original issue dated October 22, 1999. Its average weighed price was set at 100.348 units while its lowest acceptance price was 100.270.
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