Business

Greece markets hit by debt default fears

An employee in Tokyo reacts as he works in front of monitors displaying fluctuations of the exchange rates of major currencies Image copyright Reuters

Greek financial markets were in turmoil on Wednesday after the new anti-bailout government appeared determined to defy the country's international creditors.

New Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said his party could not disappoint the voters which had elected them.

Greek five-year bond yields jumped to 13.5%, reflecting fears investors may not get their money back.

Share prices also fell for a third consecutive day with the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) losing more than 9%.

The biggest losers were bank shares, which plunged 26.67%.

In the two sessions since Sunday's election, banks have seen 43% of their value wiped off, with investors fretting that the possibility of Greece leaving the euro would see bank accounts converted back into a new Greek national currency.

And bond yields are now at their highest since a 2012 restructuring which wrote off a large proportion of Greek debt held by private investors.

'Rough'

The dramatic movements came after new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in his first cabinet meeting that he planned to negotiate with creditors over the €240bn (£179bn; $270bn) bailout.

"We are coming in to radically change the way that policies and administration are conducted in this country," he said.

Mr Tsipras has already appointed a team of anti-austerity ministers and pledged to halt the full privatisation of Greece's biggest port, Piraeus Port Authority, a sale made as part of its international bailout.

It also said it would also stop the planned sale of its 51% stake in Public Power Corporation of Greece, its biggest utility.

Shares in the port were down nearly 8%, while shares in the utility dropped 13%.

Mr Tsipras also plans to reinstate public sector employees deemed to have been laid off without proper justification and has announced rises in pension payments for retired people on low incomes.

Germany's Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel criticised the decision to halt the privatisations, saying Athens should have discussed the decision with its eurozone partners before making an announcement.

"Citizens of other euro states have a right to see that the deals linked to their acts of solidarity are upheld," he said.

The EU has repeatedly warned the new government to stick to its commitments. A default could force Greece out of the euro.

Felix Herrmann, a market strategist at DZ Bank, said: "Now Tsipras has announced his new cabinet and his new finance minister seems to be a rough guy from the very far left of the political spectrum. This is raising fears that there's a clash coming up between Athens and its lenders."

Related Topics

More on this story