Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is desperately pressing the domestic political leaders to yield to the conditions for a bailout, stating that a refusal could cause the country’s exit from the euro. The Greek parliament is due to vote on the measures this weekend. Euro region ministers are set to meet again on Feb. 15.
Venizelos, 55, told reporters after the Brussels talks.
From today until the next meeting of the Euro group, our country, our homeland, our society has to think and make a definitive, strategic decision. If we see the salvation and future of the country in the euro area, in Europe, we have to do whatever we have to do to get the program approved.
There were many objections from many countries based on the fact that we didn’t fully complete in cooperation with the troika the catalogue of additional fiscal measures that must be taken. But the main thing is that the Euro group took serious note of the fact that there haven’t yet been written, explicit and unequivocal pledges from the leaders of all the parties of support for this program.
If our homeland, our people favour another policy that necessarily leads outside the euro area and thus outside European integration, we have to say that directly to ourselves and to our fellow citizens. Nobody can hide behind another.
Strikes And Standoffs
Greek workers are on strike versus the austerity measures today halting public transport, hours after the euro zone finance ministers said Athens needed to make more cuts and reveal just where the extra cuts are to come from in order to convince them to release a financial bailout.
Strikers have brought the metro and buses to a halt whilst ships were docked in the country’s main ports in the 48-hour general strike, coming after the nationwide action on Tuesday. Hospital doctors and bank employees refused to work whilst teachers were set to join. Flights were not affected by the strike.
The civil servants’ union ADEDY said in statement;
[quote]The measures included in the new (EU/IMF) memorandum and which the three political leaders agreed with the government and the troika are the ‘tombstone’ of the Greek society. It’s time for the people to speak up.[/quote]
Before they release more cash, Greece’s financial backers are demanding parliamentary ratification of the austerity package and the identification of a further 325 million euros of spending reductions by Wednesday and a written ‘constitutional’ commitment from all parties to implement the reforms.
Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the Euro group of finance ministers in the euro zone, urged Greece late on Thursday to act on their promises. He told a news conference after six hours of talks in Brussels;
[quote]In short, no disbursement before implementation[/quote]
European indices fell, whilst Treasuries rose and the euro weakened after regional finance ministers held back a rescue package for Greece. Asian shares slid the most in eight weeks as China’s exports dropped.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.5 percent as of 8:00 a.m. in London. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures declined 0.6 percent and 10-year Treasuries climbed for the first time in four days. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 1.5 percent. The euro slipped 0.2 percent to $1.3257. The yield on German 10-year bonds declined two basis points to 2 percent. Copper fell at least 1 percent. China’s overseas shipments have declined by 0.5 percent from the year earlier the Chinese customs bureau revealed today. Imports dropped by 15.3 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $27.3 billion.
Market snapshot at 10:00 am GMT (UK time)
Asian Pacific markets mainly fell in the overnight early morning session. The Hang Seng and CSI in particular reacting to the disappointing Chinese trade figures. The Nikkei closed down 0.61%, the Hang Seng closed down 1.08% and the CSI was marginally up by 0.17%. The ASX 200 closed down 0.88%, the Aussie index will always be sensitive to disappointing Chinese data given their reliance of China as their principal customer.
European bourse indices are down in the morning session, the European market sentiment is obviously affected by the continual indecision relating to Greece, however, technical issues could also be at play if the markets are showing signs of being overbought. The STOXX 50 is currently down 0.87% at circa 2500 this is a circa 25.3% recovery from the September low of 1995. The FTSE is down 0.25%, the CAC is down 0.6%, the DAX down 0.75% and the Athens index the ASE is down 1.3%. the SPX equity index future is currently printing down 0.45%, ICE Brent crude is down $0.80 per barrel, Comex gold is down $17.3 an ounce.
The euro has strengthened versus 15 of its 16 most-traded counterparts this week. The 17-nation shared currency has risen 0.7 percent against the dollar this week.
Australia’s dollar retreated 0.9 percent to $1.0691. The central bank lowered its forecasts for growth and inflation this year, enabling policy makers to reduce the benchmark interest rate should the economy weaken significantly.
The euro fell 0.1 percent to $1.3271 at 9:00 a.m. London time, reducing the weekly advance to 0.8 percent. It reached $1.3322 yesterday, the strongest level since Dec. 12. Europe’s shared currency weakened 0.2 percent to 103 yen. The dollar was little changed at 77.63 yen. It earlier advanced to 77.75 yen, the strongest level since Jan. 26.
The Dollar Index, which IntercontinentalExchange Inc. uses to track the greenback against the currencies of six U.S. trading partners, was 0.1 percent stronger at 78.67 after touching 78.364 yesterday, the lowest level since Dec. 8.
Japan’s finance ministry has distanced itself from Finance Minister Jun Azumi and his comments to lawmakers that indicates a level which triggered intervention in the yen in October.
“I instructed an intervention when the yen was 75.63, which could pose a threat to the Japanese economy, and finished when it was 78.20,” Azumi said earlier today.