ECONOMY

In Brief

Greek bonds narrow spread after Moody’s upgrading Moody’s upgrading of Greece’s credit rating to A1 last month helped the Greek government bond market, with the average yield spread from equivalent German securities narrowing to 26 basis points (bps) from 31 bps in October. The volume of transactions on the Secondary Electronic Bond Market reached 49.89 billion euros last month, against 69.30 billion in October, and 59.69 billion in November 2001. For the second consecutive month, the 10-month benchmark bond maturing on May 18, 2002 attracted the largest volume of transactions, reaching 7.6 million euros. Due to the expectations for interest rate reductions by the European Central Bank, investment interest focused on short-term securities; the value of transactions on securities maturing in between three and five years reached 39.80 percent of the total, against 23.70 percent for bonds maturing in between 10 and 20 years. Of the 7,905 transaction orders, 52.03 percent was for purchases and the rest for sales. Bond prices rose between eight and 119 bps. The 15-year bond maturing on January 1, 2014 closed at 113.62 on November 29, from 112.84 on October 31, and the 20-year bond maturing on October 22, 2022 closed at 107.22 from 106.03. The price of the benchmark 10-year bond, ended at 103.69, up 55 bps. EIB approves 1.5-billion euro loan, mostly for Olympic projects The European Investment Bank (EIB) said in Brussels yesterday it had approved a 1.5-billion-euro package for financing a broad Greek government investment program that includes projects for the 2004 Olympics, the improvement of the urban environment in Athens and infrastructure in various parts of the country. The EIB said in a statement that Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas had signed a contract for the first 500-million-euro installment. In November 2001, the bank granted Greece a 100-million-euro loan for construction of two tramways in the Athens area, totaling 22.7 kilometers. Romtelecom Romania’s Telecommunications Authority (RTA) yesterday approved rate rises for the country’s fixed-line Romtelecom utility as of next year, removing one of the main stumbling blocks to the signing of a deal agreed last month whereby Greece’s OTE Telecom will inject $243 million into Romtelecom to raise its stake to 54 percent. RTA Chairman Ion Smeelanu said the company has provided new reliable data showing that if the new rates were not approved, profitability would suffer. OTE officials in Athens said the approval was in the right direction. «The available data is being examined and an announcement will follow in the coming days,» the Athens News Agency quoted them as saying. Extra taxes The Finance Ministry collected 1,458 million euros in additional taxes from inspections for past financial years in January-November 2002, 42 percent more than in the same period last year. Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis said there will be intensification of inspections into the books of enterprises and self-employed professionals who have not opted for irrevocable settlements for the fiscal years from 1999 to 2001. Those who have still not done so, may still do so up to the end of the year.