ECONOMY

Greek stocks decline as lenders tumble after Tsipras Sunday talk

Greek equities fell, after posting their biggest weekly jump since November, as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reaffirmed his rejection of the country’s international bailout program.

The ASE Index slid 5.9 percent to 755.79 at 1 p.m. in Athens, with a gauge of banks tumbling 12 percent. The broad benchmark measure rallied 11 percent last week as lenders rebounded after reaching a record low on Jan. 28.

Tsipras isn’t backing down from pledges that would breach conditions of the bailout aid. He vowed to increase the minimum wage, restore the income tax-free threshold and halt infrastructure privatizations. In his Sunday speech, he also said he would ask for World War II reparations from Germany and the repayment of forced loans Greece made to the Nazi regime during the country’s occupation. Euro area’s finance ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Feb. 11 in Brussels.

“We’re still trying to move towards a solution but we’re not making much progress,” Peter Dixon, global equities economist at Commerzbank AG in London, said by phone. “Under those circumstances, markets are going to suffer. Investors have learned over the seven or eight years that tail risk matters. Greece is somewhere on the tail.”

The move is helping push down Spanish and Italian stocks, with the FTSE MIB Index and IBEX 35 Index falling more than 1.5 percent. Those were the biggest declines among 18 western- European markets after Greece. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.8 percent.

Since former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced presidential elections in December, intraday stock swings for the ASE have doubled from their one-year average, and the index had average daily moves of more than 3 percent in 2015, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Stock volatility reached its highest level since 2011 last week and trading of ASE-listed shares climbed to a record.

[Bloomberg]