Athens stocks plunge exchange reopens

3 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Greek stock market tumbles after five-week shutdown.

Greece’s stock market closed with heavy losses on Monday after a five-week shutdown brought on by fears that the country was about to be dumped from the euro zone. Banks had been expected to be among the hardest-hit stocks, as they remain precariously dependent on emergency liquidity assistance from Europe’s central bank. The bourse had been closed since June 27, after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced a national referendum on the bailout conditions stipulated by international creditors.

Meanwhile the Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF, which is designed to track Athens’ 20 largest listed companies by market capitalisation, had fallen around 3 per cent in July. All five shares comprising the index – National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, Attica Bank and Eurobank – were locked down for much of the session at the limit with no buyers.

Initial trading volumes remained extremely low, amid trade financing controls put in place by the Greek government in tandem with the European Central Bank. The restrictions, intended to stem cash outflows from Greek banks, mean local investors can currently buy stocks only with cash or money from foreign bank accounts, and not through local accounts.

Late last week, senior auditors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund held the first meetings with Greek ministers to finalise the country’s new three-year bailout, its third since the global financial crisis. Italy’s finance minister last week called for deeper political integration in the euro area in the wake of Greece’s crisis, saying a move “straight towards political union” would be the only way to ensure the survival of the region’s common currency.

A report on Sunday in the newspaper Avgi, which is close to Syriza, said the government was seeking €24 billion in a first tranche of bailout aid from international lenders in August. In an interview with Ethnos newspaper on Monday, European economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici described an August deal as possible, but added it would be “ambitious”, suggesting that it would take hard work to achieve it. To limit the possibility of using shares as part of euro-flight, the government and ECB have said no extra money can be withdrawn by Greeks from deposit accounts to buy shares. The European Commission says the Greek economy will shrink by 2 to 4 per cent this year, a return to the recession that plagued the country for six years until 2014.

On Monday, a survey showed Greek manufacturing activity plunged to a record low as new orders plummeted and the three-week bank shutdown caused serious supply problems.

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