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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 15-06-05

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Friday, 5 June 2015 Issue No: 4971

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Tsipras: The Greek proposal is the only realistic proposal on the table
  • [02] PM Tsipras has ruled out accepting 'extreme proposals', source says
  • [03] Greece has rejected the creditors' 5-page proposal presented in Brussels, says gov't source
  • [04] EU Commission's Schinas confirms follow-up meeting between Greek PM and Juncker
  • [05] Interior Minister: Juncker's text can't be a basis for debate
  • [06] A solution will be found before the end of the month, FinMin Varoufakis says
  • [07] FinMin Varoufakis: There is negotiation
  • [08] Greek finance ministry says creditors' proposals would worsen poverty, unemployment
  • [09] 'If our partners want complete surrender, they will not have it' Alternate Shipping Min says
  • [10] Alt. Social Insurance Min: Lenders' proposal 'despicable'
  • [11] 'If creditors present ultimatum, the people will decide,' SYRIZA Parliamentary spokesman says
  • [12] Independent Greeks: 'Government will negotiate to the end for truly beneficial agreement'
  • [13] Greek government has presented a realistic proposal that the institutions have to accept, GUE/NGL president says
  • [14] Greek Parliament to discuss ongoing negotiations on Friday; PM's address at 18:30
  • [15] Speculations over elections are nonsense, ND leader Samaras says
  • [16] The technical and political negotiation was a myth, PASOK leader Venizelos tells ANA-MPA
  • [17] Potami leader meets with French Economy Minister Macron
  • [18] Neither the creditors nor the government's plan are considered basis for discussion, KKE says
  • [19] Greek FM Kotzias, FYROM's Besimi discuss initiative for CBMs
  • [20] Greece never waived claims for either WWI or WWII, Parl't Committee on German war reparations told
  • [21] Golden Dawn trial resumes
  • [22] Greece's 47-page proposal submitted to lenders includes 5-10 pct special levy on large businesses
  • [23] Creditors' proposals envisage higher taxes, strict implementation of pending reforms
  • [24] Bank of Greece officially asks to 'bundle' IMF repayments on June 19, sources say
  • [25] Energy Minister Lafazanis meets with EBRD executives
  • [26] Greek unemployment rate at 25.6 pct in March
  • [27] Greek stocks end 1.32 pct lower
  • [28] ADEX closing report
  • [29] Clouds, rain on Friday
  • [30] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM Tsipras: The Greek proposal is the only realistic proposal on the table

    "The proposal submitted by the Greek side remains the only realistic and constructive proposal on the table," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said after the meeting with the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker late on Wednesday.

    Tsipras said the discussion with Juncker was "constructive and friendly" and added:

    "From the proposals we have heard from the three institutions, I would like to keep the lower surplus as a basis for discussion. Certainly there are many more issues we agree on. But there are issues that no one could approach because everyone should know that we are talking about a country that has undergone a major economic disaster over the past five years. It has lost 25 percent of GDP in five years of austerity. Proposals such as abolishing the supplementary pensions of low-pension retirees, known as EKAS, or increasing VAT on electricity by 10 percentage points are proposals that cannot constitute a basis for discussion...The Greek proposals remain the realistic basis for discussion. Discussions will continue in the coming period, in the coming days and I can say that as long as someone discusses honestly, it is easier to reach a mutually acceptable solution."

    The Prime Minister clarified that there is no a 'take it or leave it' proposal, but only dialogue for a mutually beneficial solution.

    On his part, the European Commission president said: "It was a good, constructive meeting. Progress was made in understanding the positions of each side, based on different proposals."

    [02] PM Tsipras has ruled out accepting 'extreme proposals', source says

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday made it clear that the Greek government will not accept "extreme proposals," while briefing ministers and associates on the results of his talks in Brussels on Wednesday, a government source said.

    "Extreme proposals will not be accepted by the Greek government. Everyone must understand that the Greek people have suffered a great deal in the last five years and some people must stop playing games at their expense," Tsipras was quoted as saying.

    Immediately after his return, the prime minister and the rest of the Greek mission in Brussels held a meeting with Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in order to brief each other and exchange views, the source said.

    [03] Greece has rejected the creditors' 5-page proposal presented in Brussels, says gov't source

    The 5-page document presented to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras during his meeting with European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Wednesday evening is rejected as a basis for negotiations, with the exception of the primary surplus targets, a government source said on Thursday.

    The source noted that the government has not yet decided if and when it will draft a document responding to this proposal.

    In the next few days, the government will hold consultations to clarify its total opposition to this document and it may also speak with EU officials on the issue, the source said. Asked whether Tsipras will meet with Juncker again, the source said there's no set appointment yet.

    On Friday, the government will brief Parliament on the ongoing negotiations and Greece's 47-page proposal during an off-the-agenda debate requested by Tsipras.

    The same government source said the government will also call on political parties to state their opinion on the Greek proposal and the ongoing developments.

    [04] EU Commission's Schinas confirms follow-up meeting between Greek PM and Juncker

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/ M. Aroni)

    European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas on Thursday confirmed that there will be a follow-up meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the coming days.

    The spokesman said he was unable to confirm a precise date for the next meeting between Tsipras and Juncker but could say that it will take place. He indicated that the participants in the next meeting would likely be the same as in the meeting on Wednesday night.

    He also noted that many of the various leaks concerning the contents of the proposal to Greece from the institutions belonged in the sphere of rumour. Schinas said that one needed to look at the overall picture and the essential issues, which were none other than certain gaps that remain and must be bridged through negotiations.

    Juncker remains in constant communication with all the political officials involved in the negotiation in order to find a solution, he added.

    Eurozone sources, in statements after the Tsipras-Juncker meeting, said they were optimistic that a staff level agreement between Greece and the institutions "was just days away".

    The draft agreement of the institutions presented to Greece is not a basis for discussion, gov't sources say

    The five-page draft agreement of the institutions presented to the Greek side does not constitute a basis for discussion in its current form, according to government sources. They expressed, however, the view that it leaves room for compromises in order to allow a deal in the immediate future.

    As they said, it is a proposal for an agreement on a technical level (staff level agreement) that reintroduces measures that were out of question in the negotiations at Brussels Group level.

    The same sources said that the proposals included measures such as higher VAT on energy, restaurants and medicine, that will generate revenues of 1.8 billion euros in 2015, social security spending cuts of 1 percent of GDP in 2015 and 2016 and abolition of the supplementary pensions of low-pension retirees, known as EKAS, by the end of 2015.

    The government sources expressed their content over the primary surplus targets which were set as follows: 1.0 percent in 2015, 2.0 percent in 2016, 3.0 percent in 2017 and 3.5 percent in 2018.

    Discussion on debt was 'superficial', the sources said, as the issue is not included in the deal at technical level, while the institutions' proposal on labour issues was not very clear.

    The Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' contacts and technical staff's proceedings will continue on Thursday, possibly not at a Brussels Group level, with the view to reaching a deal before June 14.

    The same sources said that the creditors have also proposed an extension of some months in order to implement the agreed measures.

    [05] Interior Minister: Juncker's text can't be a basis for debate

    Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis on Thursday in statements to SKAI TV said that "Hardouvelis (Finance Minister in previous New Democracy government) e-mail was less painful and Samaras did not bring it in parliament" commenting on the plan that European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker presented to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

    "I see the glass half empty and I am optimistic...nobody can see it half full...the presented plan can't be the basis for debate...they introduced measures that were voted by New Democracy (former government), noted Voutsis.

    Voutsis left open the possibility of general elections underlining that if elections are held "it will be a democratic initiative that will fortify the mandate for a realistic agreement and not for a rift".

    Referring to the payment of the first installment to IMF in June, the minister agreed with Tsipras' statement who hinted that it will be paid.

    [06] A solution will be found before the end of the month, FinMin Varoufakis says

    "A solution will have been found before the end of the month," Finance Minister Yannis Varoufakis on Thursday said in statements to Parapolitika radio station.

    As the negotiating process comes to an end, creditors adopt a stricter stance, Varoufakis added.

    Referring to the agreement, he spoke of a "complicated negotiation, beset by the creditors' internal disagreement, which will end on June 30," and added that "the creditors' internal disagreement is the only issue, otherwise the discussions are made in good and positive climate."

    [07] FinMin Varoufakis: There is negotiation

    "There is negotiation" said Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis when asked by the press on Thursday, upon his arrival to the Finance Ministry, if there is a rift with Greece's lenders.

    [08] Greek finance ministry says creditors' proposals would worsen poverty, unemployment

    Greece's finance ministry said on Thursday that the institutions must shift towards more realistic proposals which will allow economic recovery and show social sensitivity.

    In a press release, the ministry said the proposals submitted by the country's lenders would deepen poverty and unemployment. "After four months of negotiations, the institutions submitted proposals whose implementation ... would not resolve the riddle of the economic crisis which was exacerbated by the policies of the last five years," it said.

    It also noted that the government has already submitted proposals which provide for economic growth.

    [09] 'If our partners want complete surrender, they will not have it' Alternate Shipping Min says

    "If our partners want complete surrender, they will not have it," Alternate Shipping Minister Thodoris Dritsas on Thursday said in statements to SKAI TV.

    "Everything is still open, we must fight to the end ... If Europe is mad, then the Greek people can decide and the government will rely on the Greek society," he said, leaving open the possibility of early elections. He also said that discussions in Brussels were "in any case, below expectations."

    "There are no reforms for the production of wealth in the creditors' proposals," he said, while adding: "I still consider the Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP) privatisation a big mistake."

    Dritsas called the Greek proposal a "compromise, which keeps all possibilities open so that Greece can have a next day" and said: "We have tabled a comprehensive realistic plan aiming at exiting the crisis (... ) We will insist on this direction, we will not take a step back."

    [10] Alt. Social Insurance Min: Lenders' proposal 'despicable'

    Alternate Social Insurance Minister Dimitris Stratoulis on Thursday addressing the Greek parliament called the agreement the lenders want to impose "despicable and disgraceful."

    "Their demand is provocative and shameful. The country will not be lost if the lenders do not retreat. It has potentials and alternative solutions and a democratic way out. There are alternative solutions that cost less than signing such a despicable deal," stated Stratoulis.

    "Their proposal is the continuation of the memorandum policies that the Greek people rejected with their vote. All the package is rejected by the current government. We will not continue the austerity policies that devastated and impoverish the Greek society and the people and humiliated the country. We know why they are doing that. They do not want to recognise their mistake because they want to crush whatever reaction exist in the policies of the eternal austerity."

    Finally, Stratoulis categorically said that he will not agree with anti-social insurance measures, noting that "these do not pass because they lead to pensioners devastation...Politically and ethically there is no way something like this to be accepted."

    [11] 'If creditors present ultimatum, the people will decide,' SYRIZA Parliamentary spokesman says

    If the creditors reject Greece's proposals and present Athens with a "take it or leave it" ultimatum, the matter will be settled through elections, SYRIZA Parliamentary spokesman Nikos Filis warned on Thursday.

    "We have submitted a 46-page document. If it is not accepted ...if there is an ultimatum from the creditors, the people will decide," he underlined to the radio station 'Vima'.

    Faced with such an ultimatum, SYRIZA will reject the proposed agreement and ask the people to reject it also, he added. He said the party will seek a stronger popular mandate through elections in order to strengthen its negotiating position and the effort for a mutually beneficial agreement.

    "The compromise will obviously have a different form now and later. It is a function of the balance of power. If the government receives 45 pct in the elections, it will enter the negotiations with a different status," Filis said.

    The spokesman also accused the country's creditors of deliberately undermining the Greek government's policy in order to make "an example" of Greece to the rest of the European peoples, adding that elections now would show whether this plan had worked.

    On the payment of an upcoming loan installment to the IMF, Filis said the Greek government should pay if there was any prospect of an agreement but "if there is no possibility of agreement, let us not exhaust partial reserves."

    [12] Independent Greeks: 'Government will negotiate to the end for truly beneficial agreement'

    The measures proposed by Greece's partners and creditors are "extremely painful and odious" and "surpass the endurance limits of the Greek people," the ruling coalition's junior partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) said on Thursday.

    "The SYRIZA-ANEL government, acting within the framework of the mandate it received on January 25, will negotiate to the end for a truly beneficial agreement," ANEL spokeswoman Marina Chrysoveloni said.

    She also strongly criticised the parties of the former ruling coalition, PASOK and New Democracy, as well as opposition Potami for their stance, calling them a "domestic alliance of the willing," and saying it was "provocative and politically immoral to praise and support the inflexible and low stance of the lenders."

    "The Greek citizens voted to stay in the euro with dignity and with the living standards of a European country. And they expressed their strong dislike for the submissiveness of the 'yes-men' to all the irrational and paranoid demands of the creditors," she added.

    [13] Greek government has presented a realistic proposal that the institutions have to accept, GUE/NGL president says

    "It's time to put an end to austerity and change the social landscape in Greece," the president of GUE / NGL Gabi Zimmer on Thursday said speaking at the Group's Study Days in Athens.

    Zimmer also stressed that "the Greek government has presented a realistic proposal that the institutions will have to accept. It is a sustainable solution that promotes democracy, solidarity and development with justice."

    "It's time a mutually acceptable long-term agreement is found, which allows the Greek people to look to the future and which will terminate the state of suffocation. The Greek society cannot afford more austerity and unemployment," she added.

    [14] Greek Parliament to discuss ongoing negotiations on Friday; PM's address at 18:30

    Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will address Parliament at 18:30 on Friday and brief MPs on the latest crucial developments in the negotiations with Greece's creditors, during an off-the-agenda debate requested by Tsipras.

    According to an announcement, the discussion will be conducted on the basis of article 142A of Parliament regulations. This stipulates that the prime minister's initial briefing or statement cannot exceed 10 minutes, while subsequent speakers and the prime minister's response are restricted to five minutes. The competent ministers also have the right to brief Parliament for up to 10 minutes for their first address and five minutes for their rejoinder.

    [15] Speculations over elections are nonsense, ND leader Samaras says

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Thursday said that speculations over elections are nonsense.

    Samaras also called on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to participate in a wide national consensus.

    [16] The technical and political negotiation was a myth, PASOK leader Venizelos tells ANA-MPA

    "The technical and political negotiation was a myth," PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday said in an interview with ANA-MPA webTV.

    "In fact the government does not negotiate. While time is running out, it considers that it is gaining more time. If it is making a negotiation, this is an inner-party negotiation, in Athens, with its deputies and party members. It is not negotiating with Greece's partners," Venizelos commented on the results of Wednesday's meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

    "The partners are now moving in absentia of Greece and it seems that a serious technical discussion has not been held," he noted.

    Venizelos stressed that he does not want elections and added: "The truth is that the government does not have a political line right now. It does not have a strategy. I always said that it has been strategically trapped while it seems powerful. It appears as if it has self-confidence, power, plan. It has nothing."

    The full interview is available for subscribers at ANA-MPA website.

    [17] Potami leader meets with French Economy Minister Macron

    "The Prime Minister (Alexis Tsipras) must dare within the next hours to encounter with his party's bad side and to proceed to an agreement that will be to the benefit of the Greek people,"

    Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis stated after his meeting with French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron on Thursday in Paris.

    Theodorakis noted that the potentials of the Greek economy are huge and he shared the same view with Mr. Macron with whom they discussed issues related to investments, privatisations and all the changes that must be applied in the public as well as in the private sector, namely the reforms that are necessary for the Greek economy to restart.

    Potami leader will meet on Thursday evening (19:30) with French Finance Minister Michel Sapin and with noted economist Thomas Piketty.

    [18] Neither the creditors nor the government's plan are considered basis for discussion, KKE says

    Neither the creditors nor the government's plan are considered a basis for debate because both lead to harsh measures against the people, Communist party (KKE) said referring to the meeting between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the European Commission' president Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.

    It also accused the government of choosing to refer to only two (EKAS and 23 percent VAT on PPC's tariffs) of the package of anti-popular measures presented and wondered what will happen with the rest.

    [19] Greek FM Kotzias, FYROM's Besimi discuss initiative for CBMs

    Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) plan to launch an initiative for Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) that will aid in a solution of the name dispute and will be announced at the end of this month, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Thursday, in a joint press conference FYROM's Deputy Prime Minister Fatmir Besimi after their meeting in Athens.

    Kotzias talked of a very friendly, creative and open discussion that generated hope for the future, adding that talks will continue and a list of CBMs announced at the end of June, when he will is scheduled to visit Skopje as part of a Western Balkans tour.

    The Greek minister said he had expressed his support for the discussion amongst the political parties in the neighbouring country, under the aegis of European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn, while describing Besimi as one of the "realistic and reasonable voices" in the neighbouring country.

    He said their talks had focused on the discussions on the name issue and how they will proceed in deciding CBMs, which he said would also be discussed by the Greek foreign ministry's political director in an upcoming visit to Skopje.

    Replying to questions, Kotzias declined to be more specific about what measures might be involved, saying he would be "getting ahead" of himself to refer to specific measures when discussion was still underway.

    "What I have to say is that, following the three meetings we had - in Budapest, Riga and Antalya -- with my colleague the foreign minister of our neighbouring country, we each put together a list of proposals and ascertained that in large part, in one way or another, they overlapped," he said. The two sides now had to clarify precisely what was meant on each of these points, he added.

    In this effort, Kotzias said, he had requested Hahn's assistance as the competent commissioner on "certain measures to shape the programme - funded, if possible, by the European Union - within the framework of a possible and, as I hope, real agreement on the confidence-building measures."

    Besimi, on his part, referred to a shared vision of stability, peace, prosperity and democratic values in the Western Balkans, as well as the need for good neighbour relations, saying he welcomed the ideas for CBMs and a solution for the name issue.

    Referring to the political situation in his own country, he was now more optimistic as a result of the agreement reached on Monday between the political leaders on how to move forward.

    [20] Greece never waived claims for either WWI or WWII, Parl't Committee on German war reparations told

    A special Parliament Committee set up to pursue war reparations and debts owed by Germany was on Thursday briefed on a report concerning Greece's claims for German reparations and the repayment of a forced occupation loan, drafted by a special finance ministry committee.

    According to the honorary general director of Greece's General Accounting Office Panagiotis Karakousis, who was on the committee that drafted the report, "there is no evidence to indicate that Greece has at any time given up on or withdrawn any of its demands from either World War I or World War II."

    Based on its findings, Greece's claims on Germany are in the region of 280 and 340 billion euros, by what Parliament President and committee chair Zoi Konstantopoulou described as "the most conservative estimates".

    [21] Golden Dawn trial resumes

    Golden Dawn trial resumed on Thursday at Korydallos prison courtroom.

    Approximately 150 individuals have gathered outside the prisons and shouted slogans against nazism while holding banners "Life sentence to Golden Dawn's neonazis" and "Not this trial in Korydallos".

    Financial News

    [22] Greece's 47-page proposal submitted to lenders includes 5-10 pct special levy on large businesses

    The Greek government's 47-page proposal submitted to the country's lenders by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday includes a 5-10 pct extraordinary levy on large businesses with net profits over 5 million euros, an increase in the solidarity tax for annual incomes higher than 30,000 euros, an increase in luxury tax to 13 pct from 10 pct and three VAT rates - 6 pct, 11 pct and 23 pct - it was announced on Thursday.

    Apart from the above proposals, the document also includes the following tax measures:

  • The proposed tax rates are 0.7 pct for annual incomes between 12,001-20,000 euros (current rate), 1.4 pct for incomes between 20,001-30,000 euros (current rate), 2 pct for incomes between 30,001-50,000 euros (up from 1.4 pct), 4 pct for incomes between 50,001-100,000 euros (up from 2.1 pct), 6 pct for incomes between 100,001-500,000 (up from 2.8 pct) and 8 pct for incomes over 500,001 euros (up from 2.8 pct). The target is to raise 220 million euros in revenues from this measure

  • The extraordinary levy on large businesses making more than 5 million in net profit will be divided in three rates: 5 pct for net profits ranging from 5 to 10 million euros, 7 pct for net profits ranging between 10 to 25 million euros and 10 pct for net profits over 25 million euros. The target from this measure is to raise 1.064 billion euros in revenues

  • Three VAT rates: 6, 11 and 23 pct. The low rate will be applied only to medicines, books and theatre tickets. The 11 pct rate will be applied to newspapers and magazines, staple and fresh foods, energy and water utility bills, hotels and restaurants. Everything else will fall under the 23 pct rate

  • The luxury tax rate will be raised to 13 pct from the current 10 pct for cars over 2,500 cc, recreational yachts, planes, helicopters and swimming pools. It is estimated that this measure will lead to revenues of 30 million euros

  • A tax on television commercials to raise 100 million euros in revenues

  • Revenues of 120 million euros from TV licenses and an additional 220 million euros from "television stations"

  • Another 120 million euros in revenues from checks on uninsured vehicles, or those which have not passed the standard roadworthiness test (known as KTEO)

    [23] Creditors' proposals envisage higher taxes, strict implementation of pending reforms

    Higher corporate taxes, increases in an extraordinary solidarity contribution tax, the abolition of subsidies on heating oil and of a favorable regime on diesel oil for farmers, the readjustment of VAT rates - by abolishing the lower rate on Greek islands - are among the measures included in a proposal submitted to the Greek government by the institutions, it was revealed on Thursday.

    The proposal envisages, among others, a revision of an existing VAT rate from July 1, 2015. This reform should focus on raising revenues up to 1.0 pct of GDP through the introduction of two VAT rates (23 pct and 11 pct which will include food, pharmaceuticals and hotels).

    It also envisages a rationalization of all tax exemptions, limiting the scope for tax evasion by introducing more strict criteria for farmers, adopting measures to raise corporate taxes for 2015 and raising a corporate tax advance payment to 100 pct.

    It also includes measures for limiting all exemptions envisaged for farmers and raising a solidarity contribution tax. It also abolishes all subsidies for heating oil and a favorable regime on diesel oil for farmers.

    The proposals also envisage a readjustment of property tax rates in order to safeguard revenues worth 2.65 billion euros for 2015 and 2016, if the government decides to revise real estate official prices.

    It proposes implementing pending reforms on a new criminal law for tax evasion and fraud and simplifying, by September 2015, an existing system of a tax free income limit (through a tax credit system) and finally, redesigning and integrating an extra solidarity contribution tax in income tax.

    [24] Bank of Greece officially asks to 'bundle' IMF repayments on June 19, sources say

    The Bank of Greece has sent a request to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), asking to "bundle" its repayments for this month and pay them all together on June 19.

    The installments to the IMF that must be paid in June amount to 1.5 billion euros, the first of which should have been paid on Friday.

    [25] Energy Minister Lafazanis meets with EBRD executives

    Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis met on Thursday with executives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to discuss funding for small and medium-sized businesses.

    Lafazanis discussed the issue with Riccardo Puliti, Managing Director for Energy at EBRD and Matteo Colangeli, senior banker at EBRD's Natural Resources.

    In mid-May, the government and the bank signed an agreement to initiate activities in Greece, as the country was granted a temporary recipient country status until 2020. According to the agreement, Greece may receive funding of up to 500 million euros.

    [26] Greek unemployment rate at 25.6 pct in March

    Greek unemployment rate was 25.6 pct in March this year, unchanged from February, but down compared with 26.9 pct in March 2014, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Thursday.

    The statistics service, in a report, said that the number of unemployed people totaled 1,211,507 in March, while unemployment among young people (aged up to 24 years old) fell slightly in March - below the 50 pct level for the first time since 2012. The number of unemployed people was down 6.2 pct in March compared with the same month last year and 0.4 pct lower compared with February 2015. The number of employed people totaled 3,518,858, up 0.4 pct from March last year but down 0.5 pct from February.

    Unemployment among women was 29.3 pct in March from 30.5 pct in March 2014, exceeding the unemployment rate among men (22.7 pct and 24.1 pct respectively).

    The unemployment rate in the 15-24 age group was 49.7 pct in March (56.4 pct in March last year), in the 25-34 age group it fell to 33 pct from 35.4 pct, in the 35-44 age group it rose to 24.1 pct from 23.7 pct, in the 45-54 age group it rose to 20.9 pct from 20.6 pct, in the 55-64 age group it rose to 19 pct from 17.6 pct and in the 65-74 age group it fell to 11.5 pct from 13.4 pct.

    Among the country's regions, Epirus-Western Macedonia (27.2 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rate, followed by Thessaly-Central Greece (26.9 pct), Peloponnese-Western Greece-Ionian Islands (26.5 pct), Macedonia-Thrace (26.3 pct), Attica (25.9 pct), Crete (24.1 pct) and Aegean (21.5 pct).

    [27] Greek stocks end 1.32 pct lower

    Greek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, after Wednesday's rally, as market sentiment has become highly volatile because of uncertainty over the outcome of negotiations between Greek authorities and the country's creditors. The composite index of the market fell 1.32 pct to end at 827.12 points, off the day's lows of 810.31 points. The Large Cap index ended 1.63 pct lower and the Mid Cap index ended 1.22 pct down. Turnover shrank to 68.39 million euros.

    Terna Energy (5.81 pct), Jumbo (1.90 pct), Hellenic Exchanges (1.10 pct) and Viohalco (0.79 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (5.16 pct), OPAP (3.85 pct), Alpha Bank (3.48 pct) and Folli Follie (3.11 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    Among market sectors, Chemicals (2.68 pct), Personal Products (1.14 pct) and Raw Materials (0.54 pct) scored big gains, while Travel (3.41 pct), Commerce (3.09 pct) and Banks (3.07 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 69 to 41 with another 15 issues unchanged. Andromeda (30 pct), Evrofarma (26.09 pct) and Motodynamic (23.46 pct) were top gainers, while Inform Lycos (30 pct), Teletypos (19.63 pct) and Progressive (17.76 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Banks: -3.07%

    Insurance: -2.37%

    Financial Services: +0.30%

    Industrial Products: -0.84%

    Commercial: -3.09%

    Real Estate: -0.56%

    Personal & Household: +1.14%

    Food & Beverages: 7.241.13 -0.83%

    Raw Materials: 2.557.67 +0.54%

    Construction: -0.83%

    Oil: -0.01%

    Chemicals: +2.68%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.41%

    Technology: +0.17%

    Telecoms: -1.33%

    Utilities: -0.06%

    Health: -0.65%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Eurobank, PPC and Alpha Bank.

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE

    Large Cap index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 0.333

    Eurobank 0.147

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.91

    Coca Cola HBC: 19.28

    Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE): 4.71

    National Bank of Greece: 1.23

    OPAP: 8.25

    OTE: 8.19

    Piraeus Bank: 0.523

    Titan: 20.93

    Grivalia Properties: 7.65

    Aegean Airlines: 7.04

    Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 9.63 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 10.22 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 10.47 pct and the German Bund yielding 0.84 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate rose to 0.162 pct from 0.16 pct, the nine-month rate was unchanged at 0.098 pct, the six-month rate was stable at 0.048 pct, the three-month rate was -0.013 pct and the one-month rate fell to -0.062 pct.

    [28] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.25 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 2,409 contracts with 42,683 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 52,284 contracts with investment interest focusing on Eurobank's contracts (18,881), followed by Alpha Bank (7,923), Piraeus Bank (12,751), National Bank (8,524), MIG (643), OTE (404), PPC (2,194), OPAP (158), Mytilineos (125), Hellenic Petroleum (108), Folli Follie (87) and Hellenic Exchanges (75).

    Weather forecast

    [29] Clouds, rain on Friday

    Clouds, rain and northerly winds are forecast for Friday. Wind velocity will reach 6 on the Beaufort scale. Rain in the afternoon in the northern parts of the country with temperatures ranging from 14C-28C. Partly cloudy in the eastern parts with temperatures between 15C-29C. Unstable weather in the eastern parts with rain in the afternoon and temperatures between 13C-29C. Scattered clouds over the Aegean islands and Crete, 18C-26C. Partly cloudy in Athens with a chance of rain in the afternoon, 18C-28C. Clouds and rain in Thessaloniki, 15C-27C.

    [30] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    AVGHI: Continue the austerity? No, thanks

    DIMOKRATIA: Trap for 'imminent' pensioners

    EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: On the brink of rift

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Harsh measures from the creditors to reach a deal

    ESTIA: Flagrant injustice VAT rates

    ETHNOS: The creditors' demands set fire

    IMERISSIA: Dangerous block

    KATHIMERINI: An extension to the negotiation thriller

    NAFTEMPORIKI: Road for agreement opens

    RIZOSPASTIS: A 6.0 billion euro anti-popular package to reach a deal

    TA NEA: 'Blood' tax for an agreement

    TO PONTIKI: They are asking for "blood" to give money

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