Serb dinar, stocks fall

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbia’s dinar currency and share prices fell yesterday on expectations that a hardliner would chair parliament, signaling the nation was unlikely to get a pro-Western government and was heading for new elections. The main pro-Western parties have been deadlocked in coalition talks since an inconclusive January 21 election. New elections must be called if no government is formed by May 14. Dealers spoke of panic conditions in the currency market, where the dinar weakened to trade at 81.42/81.62 to the euro in interbank forex deals in the early afternoon, down from 80.9561 at its official close on Friday. Trading volumes were said to be lean, except for client demand coming mainly from energy companies buying euros to pay for their imports. «There is little trade and plenty of panic. The main investors are from the region and they fear the (ultra-nationalist) Radical Party could come to power,» a currency dealer said. «In that respect, new elections would offer a ray of hope despite an uncertain outcome.» Losses on the bourse were heavier, with the market closing 3.05 percent down to 3,162.43 index points. Of the 15 most actively traded stocks, 10 fell, three rose and two closed flat. The Vienna-listed index of eight Serbian assets lost 2.57 percent yesterday, weighed down by falling bank shares.