ECONOMY

In Brief

Bond trading breaks record in September The total value of transactions in the electronic secondary bond market reached a record 66.4 billion euros in September, from 57.23 billion in August and 26.31 billion in September 2001. Also, the value of transactions on a single day reached a record 5.31 billion euros on September 24. Uncertainty about the economy and expectations for lower interest rates worldwide boosted interest mainly for short- and medium-term titles up to seven years, where the total value of trading represented 57.48 percent of the total. Trading in the five-year bond maturing on January 1, 2004 reached 7.37 million euros and in the five-year title maturing on April 19, 2007, 6.95 million euros. Of the 11,771 orders executed, 50.3 concerned purchases. Bond prices rose further, between 88 and 191 basis points, for the fourth straight month. The biggest rise was for the 15-year title maturing on January 11, 2014, which reached 114.55, with the yield falling to 4.80 percent. The yield curve became steeper downward, as the spread between three-year and 20-year bonds rose to 171 basis points (bps) from 148 a month earlier. The average yield spread between the Greek and German 10-year benchmark titles fell from 35 to 34 bps. Bank clients’ complaints continue rising The number of written complaints filed with the Banking Ombudsman rose 18.9 percent to 553 in the first nine months of the year, of which 20 percent was referred elsewhere. The office dealt with 403 cases, 80 percent of which were concluded in favor of bank clients. Most complaints concerned charges arising from transactions in branches or through ATMs with stolen or lost credit cards. Social security The Labor and Social Security Ministry said it will start in November the codification of all social security legislation, which is seen a major step toward modernization of the sector. The project will be carried out with the help of academics and is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2003. EU-China Most of the 40 Greek enterprises that have applied to be among 500 European firms to be represented in the EU-China Partenariat in Beijing on November 7 and 8 are based in northern Greece, «confirming their particularly outward character,» the region’s exporters association (SEVE) said. The deadline for applications expires on October 15. More information may be obtained at www. seved.gr/china. Alfa Alfa sale Alfa Alfa Holdings’ Dutch subsidiary ESHA Holding BV has sold its 50-percent stake in Ecotherm Beheer to Ireland’s CRH for 12.5 million euros, as part of a restructuring plan and a program to meet the group’s high debt obligations, which amount to 264 million euros, including those of also listed construction firm ALTE and Alfa Alfa Energy. Of this amount, 161.5 million euros is owed to the Agricultural Bank. Hotel Metallurgy group Viohalco, Greece’s biggest exporter, has leased a property of its Xenka affiliate in Karaiskaki Square, Athens, to the Daskalantonakis hotel group which will turn into a five-star facility in time for the Olympic Games of 2004.