After a remarkable and very volatile year, the Athens Stock Exchange is entering slowly in 2021. Year 2020 took its place in global history as a tumultuous period of time. Anecdotal evidence of the last 150 years provide us with a rule of thumb about the years of a typical decade. 9 out of 10 times the year of the decade ending with the digit 0 and many times the year ending with the digit 1 are correlated with raising eyebrows events that have serious effects in the economic and social life of the planet. Indicative events of the recent decades are the Gulf War (Aug. 1990 - Feb. 1991), the dot.com bubble bursting in the US in year 2000, the NY twin towers attack in 2001, the Greek debt crisis in 2010-2011.
Annual losses for the Athens General Index for 2020 have narrowed to -11.75% after the relentless buying spree of the last months of the year while we recall that annual gains for the year 2019 amounted to 49.47% when the Athens General Index closed at 916.17 points on 31.12.19.
Sectors with positive performance for the year 2020 were the FTSE/A.S.E. Utilities (+44.5%), the FTSE/A.S.E. Industrial Products and Services (+14.5%) and the FTSE/A.S.E. Technology (+21.3%).
Greece was faced with the need to manage an unknown multi-factor risk with the security of the citizens as a top priority. On the other side, ceteris paribus, a minimum financial activity was important to be sustained with the injection of huge amounts of cash as supportive liquidity. In March, the breakout of the pandemic caused fire sales across the board and heavy losses for Greek equities. Few months later the strong buying wave, initiated by low prices and further boosted by positive vaccine news, caused a remarkable rebound and lifted almost all boats.
Year 2021 is expected to have as a reference point the implementation of recovery schemes and policies in Eurozone, the US and all the developed world. Expansionary monetary policy and public spending programmes are expected to act as catalysts for the maximum return to normality. Construction, owners of infrastructure and networks, renewable energy sources, digital applications and whatever with "e" are among the domestic sectors that are expected to reap remarkable benefits. In addition, financials will also reap benefits as are acting as the conduit for funding of the above. This is a unique opportunity for Greece to implement projects and financial actions that combined with a forthcoming rebound of tourism will boost the domestic economy and add value with multiple positive effects for listed on the ASE companies.
Presently, important private projects (Ellinikon, Castelli Airport, FSRU Liquified Natural Gas project) and public ones (Athens Metro Line 4 extension, Highway 65) are at square one and are expected to further transform the infrastucture of the country. In addition, Greek systemic banks are planning for 2021 their final securitisation transactions of NPEs of total value of €24 bn.
We also expect the credit rating of Greece's public debt to receive support from rating agencies despite the decline of national GDP due to the pandemic. The liquidity pillow of €35 bln helps to that direction jointly to the very low level of the 10-year benchmark bond yield.
Finally, checking one more time the General Index, we consider that the round number of 800 points has been conquered and the sideways move during the last 3 weeks acts as consolidation stage and preparation for additional gains. The fact that current average daily volumes of €40 mln are subdued and below the average daily volumes of €65 mln for year 2020 is supportive of the above mentioned consolidation of prices. Although low volumes and narrow trading ranges aren't always indicative, we think that "the path of least resistance" is north.