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Athens News Agency: News in English, 00-03-14
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Foreign Exchange Market-Close14/03/2000 20:47:31
The drachma on Tuesday rose against the euro and retreated against the US dollar in the domestic foreign exchange market.
At the central bank's daily fixing, the euro was set at 333.600 drachmas from 333.740 drachmas in the previous session on Friday. The central bank purchased 250 million euros as demand for drachmas rose.
Also at the fixing, the US dollar was set at 346.460 drachmas from 345.320 on Friday.
 Secondary Bond Market-Close14/03/2000 20:47:22
Bonds in the domestic secondary market traded briskly in moderate turnover on Tuesday, in sharp contrast to the Athens Stock Exchange, traders said.
The Greek benchmark 20-year bond showed a yield of 6.26 percent from 6.28 percent on Friday.
The paper's yield spread over German bunds fluctuated between 90 and 92 basis points against 91 basis points on Friday.
Trade through the central bank's electronic system totalled 44 billion drachmas from 112 billion drachmas on Friday, while 15 billion accounted for purchase orders
 Foreign Exchange Rates-Wednesday14/03/2000 18:13:04
Following are indicative foreign exchange buying rates for commercial banks, released by the central bank for the next working day.
U.S. dollar 343.688
 Weather Forecast-Wednesday14/03/2000 17:32:48
Rainy weather will prevail in most parts of the country on Wednesday, notably in western, central, northern and northwestern Greece. Cloudy in the rest of the country. Winds will be westerly, moderate to strong.
 Bourse - Protests - Violence14/03/2000 17:09:37
Violence erupted outside the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday as some 500 angry retail investors tried to break into the bourse's trading floor before clashing with riot police, a fracas that followed the market's sameday 6.60-percent plunge.
Police later ordered the evacuation of the trading floor as a precautionary measure.
Earlier, angry investors attacked the president of Greece's union of listed companies˘ shareholders, Dimitris Karagounis, and also vandalised several luxury cars parked outside the central Athens bourse.
In a related development, an independent investors' union, chaired by professor Ion Steriotis, urged National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to urgently meet with representatives from all parties active in the stock market (investors, securities firms, institutional investors and listed companies) to find a solution to the recent downturn.
The union warned that the situation could get out of control and lead to a temporary suspension of trading on the ASE.
 ADEX-close14/03/2000 16:58:44
Derivatives prices plunged on Tuesday on the Athens Derivatives Exchange following a collapse in the two benchmark indices, FTSE/ASE 20 and FTSE/ASE 40, that ended 6.18 and 7.01 percent lower respectively.
A total of 1,313 futures contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 20 index, worth 6.9 billion drachmas. The March expiring contract ended at 2,563 points, the April contract at 2,610, the May contract at 2,625 and the June expiring contract at 2,650 points.
A total of 1,033 contracts were traded on the FTSE/ASE 40 index, worth 2.8 billion drachmas. The March expiring contract ended at 651 points, the April contract at 661, the May at 666 and the June contract at 685 points.
 Govt spokesman-stock market14/03/2000 16:31:48
Government spokesman Dimitris Repppas said on Tuesday that recent developments in the Athens Stock Exchange could not be translated in economic terms.
He was answering to journalists' questions whether there was political interference in the stock market.
Reppas stressed that a meeting on Tuesday between national economy minister and other government and political party officials did not related with stock market developments.
He said it was sad that main opposition party ND officials talked of "pyramid" schemes in the market and said that this irresponsible attitude was damaging the general interest.
 Greece-German tourist arrivals14/03/2000 16:17:34
The number of German tourists likely to visit Greece this year will rise by 5-6 percent compared with 1999's figures under normal conditions, with their number expected to exceed 2.5 million in 2000 and the three million mark in the next two years, Greek Tourism Organisation's secretary-general Eugenios Giannakopoulos said on Tuesday.
He was speaking to reporters during his visit to an international Tourism Fair (ITB) in Berlin where 60 Greek tourist enterprises were promoting the country's tourist product.
His optimistic estimates were made following contacts with big German tour operators, TUI, LTU, Neckermann, Reisen and FTI Touristik.
 Retail sales-December figures14/03/2000 16:07:18
Greece's retail sales value index rose 3.8 percent in December 1999 compared with the same month the previous year, National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
The NSS attributed the rise to increases in the food index (5.3 pct), clothing/footwear (6.8 pct) and furniture (6.5 pct).
 Budget revenues-February figures14/03/2000 16:02:05
Greece's regular budget revenues increased 22.3 percent in February compared with the same month last year, while revenues in the first two months of 2000 rose 15.3 percent, sharply up from a government target for an annual rise of 3.5 percent.
Figures released on Tuesday by the finance ministry showed that higher revenue growth rates resulted to a budget surplus of 148 billion drachmas in the period January-February this year.
Tax agencies' revenues rose 34.3 percent in February for a 18.3 percent increase in the first two months of 2000.
Customs revenues were 14.7 percent higher in the month and 7.8 percent up in January-February, while value added tax revenues jumped 46.3 percent in February for a 20.1 percent rise in the first two months of the year.
 Fitch - Greece - Upgrade alert14/03/2000 15:55:27
LONDON (ANA) · Fitch IBCA, the international rating agency, on Monday placed Greece˘s long- and short-term foreign currency ratings of ?BBB+? and ?F2?, respectively, as well as the long-term local currency rating of ?A-? (A minus) on its so-called ?RatingAlert? positive status.
According to a Fitch executive in the British capital on Tuesday, the move does not translate into an automatic upgrade but means that there is "more than a 50 percent chance" that the rating agency will proceed with an upgrade in the next few months.
A previous ANA dispatch from London had referred to an outright upgrade.
 Papantoniou-stock market14/03/2000 15:54:25
National Economy and Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Tuesday appealed to all parties not related with the Athens Stock Market (ASE) to assist in its disengagement from politics and the pre-election campaign.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the governors of National Bank of Greece, Theodoros Karatzas, Agriculture Bank of Greece's Petros Lambrou and Commercial Bank's C. Georgoutsakos, Athens Stock Exchange chairman Spyros Kouniakis and Capital Markets' Committee chairman Stavros Thomadakis, Papantoniou urged all those not participating in the bourse's procedures to let it operate unhindered, while he urged retail investors to remain confident on the country's economic course.
"There will be no intervention in the stock market's operation," Papantoniou said.
 ASE-close14/03/2000 15:52:47
Equity prices collapsed on Tuesday to end at their lowest levels since August 10, 1999, on the Athens Stock Exchange.
Dealers said the market ignored the announcement of very positive news on the country's economic course, such as a decision by international credit rating agency Fitch IBCA to place the country's foreign exchange debt on a upgrade alert, positive predictions on the Greek stock market's course made by Salomon Smith Barney and favourable comments on the economy by EU officials.
Selling pressures hit all market sectors, including blue chips, with only eight shares ending higher.
The general index ended at 4,542.65 points, down 6.60 percent, off the day's lows of 4,509.23 points. Turnover was a low 165 billion drachmas.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 6.18 percent lower at 2,577.96 points and the FTSE/ASE 40 index dropped 7.01 percent to 656.07 points.
The parallel market index for smaller capitalisation stocks collapsed. It ended at 833.24 points, off 8.47 percent.
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