ECONOMY

Rescue plan, state sell-offs in spotlight

Investors on the Athens bourse will be keeping an eye out for the latest on Greece’s fiscal crisis this week along with news on the government’s privatization agenda, targeting companies such as OTE telecom and power company PPC. Last week, the Athens bourse’s benchmark general index edged up 0.20 percent in volatile trade. Greece’s decision to start preparatory talks on the possible use of a joint rescue plan from the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) sent shares more than 2 percent higher on Thursday, raising hopes that it will help lower bank funding costs. Brokers noted that countries in financial trouble trigger a short-term rally in prices when they turn to the IMF, as it helps ease uncertainty in the market. Meanwhile, the government may unveil this week its 2.5-billion-euro privatization agenda for 2010. Brokers said that trading in stocks such as the Athens and Thessaloniki water and sewerage companies (EYDAP and EYATH, respectively) has been higher recently, as investors are speculating that the government will lower its stakes in them.