ECONOMY

In Brief

Bond prices rise in December, 10-year spread at historic low Bond prices rise in December, 10-year spread at historic low Greek bond prices rose considerably in the Electronic Secondary Securities Market in December. The biggest rise, 397 basis points (bps), was registered for the 20-year title maturing October 21, 2002, and the smallest, 88 bps, the three-year bond maturing June 21, 2005. The 10-year benchmark title maturing May 18, 2002 closed at 106.08 at the end of December from 103.69 a month earlier. Spreads from respective German titles narrowed; the average spread of 10-year benchmark bonds fell to an historic low of 23 bps in December from 26 bps a month earlier. The European Central Bank’s 0.50 percent basic lending rate reduction on December 6 contributed to lower yields and a steeper yield curve, as the yield spread between three-year and 20-year bonds widened to 199 bps from 188 bps a month earlier. The yield of the 10-year bond closed at 4.44 percent at end of December from 5.28 a month earlier. The total volume of transactions fell from 46.89 billion euros at the end of November to 31.44 billion. For the whole of 2002, the total was 566 billion euros, against 314 billion in 2001. Short- and medium-term bonds accounted for 77.17 percent of total trading volume in December. The most heavily traded title was the 10-year maturing on May 18, 2012, with 4.49 billion euros. Car sales fall again in 2002, Toyota outperforms Private car sales fell for a second consecutive year to 1999 levels in 2002, but in line with expectations, according to the Vehicle Importers and Dealers Association (SEAA). Sales totaled 268,490, down from 280,300 in 2001 and 290,220 in 2000. April was the most dynamic month, with 29,365 cars sold, and December the weakest with 12,650, down 28 percent from November. Toyota outperformed competitors (fourth place in 2001), with sales rising 5.9 percent to 23,950. Peugeot sales rose 25 percent to 22,310 and second place (eighth in 2001), while Hyundai fell 15.2 percent to 21,930 and third place (2nd). Opel, market leader in 2001, slid 28.8 percent to 20,670. Fiat was fifth, down 12.9 percent to 20,090. In terms of particular models, sales of the Mini rose 902 percent; of Chrysler, 165 percent; of GM, 117 percent; of Mitsubishi, 71 percent, and of Daihatsu, 55 percent. Sales of Land Rover fell 50 percent; of Rover, 42 percent; of Daewoo, 35.5 percent, and of Volvo, 34 percent. Prices Retail traders reacted strongly against the Development Ministry’s decision that prices will have to be posted in whole numbers of euros and/or cents, with the indications «euros» and «cents» as of January 20. The strongest reactions came from supermarkets and from gas stations where prices will be displayed in both ways. Supermarket owners complain that the measure will have to be implemented in too short a time, will be costly and largely ineffective for prices of more than one euro. Gas station owners say that it is technically impossible for pumps to post prices two different ways. Sources said the ministry is expected to issue a circular, possibly correcting the decision for gas stations. Galileo The Transport Ministry announced a tender for the sale of a majority stake in Olympic Airways subsidiary Galileo Hellas, a market leader in electronic travel booking systems in the Balkans, connecting more than 2,000 terminals. Bids will have to be submitted by January 17.