ECONOMY

Debt worries drive stocks on the Athens bourse lower

Worries about a possible restructuring of Greece?s debt sent the Greek stock market lower last week, with the government?s midterm plan announcement on Friday doing little to appease investors.

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed on Friday at 1,469.03 points, down by 4.06 percent from the previous Friday?s closing.

Spreads and credit default swaps soared on Thursday, as the yield of the Greek 10-year bonds reached 13.20 percent on the same day.

The Athens bourse has returned to the levels of the start of the year, as 90 percent of the gains posted in the first couple of months of 2011 have now evaporated. Compared with the main index?s level on February 18, at 1,715.13 points that ease the year?s peak to date, the bourse has lost some 10 billion euros of its capitalization.

Most stocks have returned to the level they were at long before Greece?s entry into the Economic and Monetary Union, levels unseen since 1997-98.

Another worrying element is the low turnover of the daily sessions, as investors maintain a waiting stance and avoid committing themselves to more or any exposure in a market that seems to have lost its direction, observers note.