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Yield hungry investors clamour for Greek bonds

Yield hungry investors clamour for Greek bonds
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Greece has returned to the international markets to borrow long-term for the first time in four years.

It sold three billion euros worth of bonds, which are due be repaid in five years time.

There was so much interest from investors that it could have sold more than 20 billion euros worth.

Athens offered a yield – that is the rate of interest to investors – of 4.95 percent.

The Greek bond is attractive to investors because it offers a relatively high return in an era of ultra-low interest rates.

Expectations that the European Central Bank will take further stimulus steps to boost the eurozone economy are also fuelling appetite for bonds issued by the currency bloc’s riskier countries.

Two years on from Grexit fears

The sale comes just two years after Greece looked set for a messy default on its debts and exit from the euro.

Athens is testing the water for further bond sales as it moves to exit from an EU/International Monetary Fund bailout which has totalled 237 billion euros.

Those loans rescued Greece from bankruptcy, but came with the condition of tough austerity measures which pushed unemployment to a record 27.5 percent of the workforce and wiped out almost a quarter of the economy.

Jobless data released on the same day as the bond sale showed the unemployment rate stubbornly high at 26.7 percent in January, even though it dropped to its lowest level in 11 months.

Greeks have seen their real disposable income fall by about 40 percent over the past six years of recession amid a wave of corporate bankruptcies.

Suicides have jumped by a third from pre-crisis level, causing the parliamentary opposition to speak of a “humanitarian crisis” in the country.

Greece is the third bailed-out eurozone country to return to the international financial markets after Ireland and Portugal. Its borrowing costs, however, remain the highest in the euro zone.