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Euro-phoria has rippled to Greece with the Athens Stock...

ATHENS, Greece, Jan. 4 -- Euro-phoria has rippled to Greece with the Athens Stock Exchange index soaring to record highs despite the country's non-participation in the new European currency launch. The Athens index rose by 6.71 percent, reaching 2921.28, the highest point ever.

The volume of trade was 106.8 billion drachmas, officials said. 'This is the strongest rally we've ever seen,' said trader Tina Sarli. 'Though Greece is not party to the euro-debut it is already reaping the benefits of what will become one of the world's strongest currencies.' Greece remained out of the 11-nation euro-zone after failing to meet the economic criteria for European Monetary Union accession. It has since adopted a program of economic reforms to trim inflation, curb public debt and generate growth in the hope of joining European Monetary Union by the year 2001. Despite significant improvement in its financial indicators, Greece retains the EU's highest inflation. Its public debt and growth rate also have to improve before joining the EMU by 2001. In a holiday address, Socialist Prime Minister Costas Simitis vowed to lead Greece to EMU by that date. But international financial institutions consider the bet a shaky prospect. The United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark are also EU member states that are not participating in the euro-zone. But unlike Greece, which wanted to join but didn't meet the criteria, the British, Swedish and Danish governments opted-out unilaterally. ---

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