Greek Short-Selling Ban Could Be Lifted Early

Greece’s market regulator said a ban on short-selling stocks could be lifted early if equities keep climbing, the government wins the next slice of European Union bailout money and banks are recapitalized.

“We are very open if things turn out positively to lift the ban even before the expiry of the three-month period,” Constantinos Botopoulos, chairman of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, said by phone today. “We have noted the new positive developments, both in markets and in the political landscape, but it would be for us a bad moment now before the two main events” of EU funds arriving and banks being recapitalized.

Greece’s benchmark ASE Index has surged 67 percent from a two-decade low reached June 5 as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged to do everything necessary to defend the euro. The measure fell 3.8 percent to 794.67 at the close of trading in Athens today.

Greek lawmakers approved a package of austerity measures needed to unlock the EU bailout funds at a vote in Parliament early today. The bill on pension, wage and benefit cuts was approved with 153 votes in favor and 128 against.

Euro-area finance ministers may not make a decision on granting funds until late November as they await a full report on Greece’s compliance with the terms of its bailout, an EU official said today. Finance chiefs won’t make the call to release 31.5 billion euros ($40.1 billion) of aid for Greece that has been frozen since June when they meet in Brussels on Nov. 12, the official said on condition of anonymity because the deliberations are private.

The Greek regulator introduced the short-selling ban in August 2011. The restrictions were last extended at the end of October, and are currently due to expire on Jan. 31.

“The maximum period for one ban is three months,” Botopoulos said. “Hopefully, if the situation becomes better, we’ll be able to lift it even before or see how things stand after the three months have elapsed.”

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