ECONOMY

Bond market showed robust growth in 2001, central bank report says

The Greek bond market recorded steep growth in business in 2001, according to data released by the Bank of Greece yesterday. The total value of transactions reached 2,835 billion euros (a daily average of 11.339 billion), against 1,035 billion in 2000. In the secondary market, the total value of transactions reached 314 billion euros, against about 64 billion in 2000. Business was especially brisk during the last quarter of the year, particularly in November, when total value reached 57 billion euros. The monthly average for 2001 was 26.2 billion euros, against 5.3 billion for 2000. With the exception of December, bond prices for all durations rose by between 50 and 60 basis points (bps) in the section of the yield curve between 2 and 4 years, and by 316-394 bps in the section of the curve over 15 years. The price of the benchmark 10-year bond, which stood at 99.678 for its syndicated issue on January 1, 2001 (5.35 percent yield), ended at 100.440 (5.28 percent) on December 28, 2001. The price of the 20-year bond reached 109.360 (5.65 percent) from 105.420 (6.01 percent) at the end of 2000. Falling yields facilitated public debt servicing. The yield of the 12-month Treasury bill, which forms the basis of calculation for the interest on all variable-rate bonds which the State has issued in the past, was 4.24 percent at the first auction in February 2001 and fell to 3.02 percent at the last auction in December. The significant increase in liquidity was reflected in the narrowing of the bid/ask spread which, as in other European markets, fluctuates depending on the remaining duration until maturity. During 2001 the spread varied between 2 and 7 bps for durations up to 7 years, between 5 and 10 bps for durations up to 11 years and between 7 and 15 bps for durations over 11 years. The average monthly spread during 2000 was 19 bps throughout the yield curve. The average yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds fell to 38 bps in December 2001 from 62 bps in the same month of 2000.