ECONOMY

Investors flock to bonds

While the Athens Stock Exchange has been languishing in the doldrums since the bubble burst three years ago, the Greek government bond market has never had it so good. Investors’ disenchantment with equities and increased uncertainties about the global economy only served to increase the attractions of dull but relatively safe investments, such as bonds, figures released yesterday by the Bank of Greece on the local bond market in August indicated. Talks of military intervention by the USA had also driven investors to the bond market. The central bank said that turnover in the electronic secondary securities market (HDAT) set a new record last month. Turnover soared to 57.23 billion euros, compared with the previous high of 56.69 billion euros in November 2001 and 46.24 billion euros in July of this year. The bank said international government bond markets in August had benefited «from the increased uncertainty in the global economy and the growing risk of a military intervention in Iraq.» It also cited the decisions by the Federal Reserve Bank and the European Central Bank to keep rates unchanged as another factor that prompted investors to turn to bonds. The biggest interest was in bonds with maturity of up to five years, with transactions involving this type of paper amounting to 26.8 billion euros or 47 percent of the total market turnover. Transactions in bonds with a maturity of between seven and 10 years totaled 13.7 billion euros. Bond prices, especially at the longer end of the curve, had the strongest monthly gains from the beginning of the year. The 10-year benchmark index closed at 102.70 with a yield of 4.89 percent. The monthly average yield spread over Bunds rose marginally to 35 basis points from 34 basis points in July.