ECONOMY

All eyes are on Brussels for debt news

Equity investors will be keeping an eye out for news from Brussels today on an extension to Greece’s loan from the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. Decisions from a meeting between eurozone finance ministers may be made public regarding Greece being offered more time to pay back the 110 billion euros or possibly at a more favorable interest rate. EFG Eurobank said in a report on Friday that collective initiatives addressing Greece’s debt crisis could act as «a game changer» for the equity market this year. The brokerage sees the Athens bourse’s benchmark general index rising 27 percent by the end of 2011 to 1,730 points. On Friday, the Athens bourse ended at 1,445.86 points up almost four percent for the week on bank led gains. Among the week’s outperformers were National Bank (rising 8.44 percent), Alpha Bank (6.13 percent), EFG Eurobank (5.28 percent), power company PPC (5.41 percent) and state betting agency OPAP (7.32 percent). News released late on Friday that ratings agency Fitch had downgraded Greek bonds to junk has been widely discounted by the markets, according to brokers, who add that it could add to trading volatility today. Across the Atlantic, this week’s US banks earnings could give investors more reason to be optimistic about the sector. Strong results from JPMorgan Chase & Co on Friday bolstered expectations for top US banks, many of which are due to report this week, including Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. Wall Street will be closed today in observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day.