News Wrap: Greece Secures Record Debt Writedown
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KWAME HOLMAN: The February jobs report pushed Wall Street up today, but not by much. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 14 points to close at 12,922. The Nasdaq rose nearly 18 points to close at 2,988. For the week, the Dow fell half-a-percent; the Nasdaq rose half-a-percent.
Greece’s creditors formally agreed today to the biggest debt writedown in history. The government said nearly 84 percent of its private sector creditors agreed to accept new Greek bonds worth less than half the old ones. The finance minister called it an exceptional success, but banking officials in Germany and elsewhere said Greece’s troubles are far from over.
FIDEL HELMER, Hauck and Aufhauser Bank (through translator): I think there will not be an immediate default of Greece, but there surely is the possibility that we will be back in this situation in six months’ time, because there are a lot of questions to be answered. Greece has to become competitive again. They have to execute the austerity measures. So, it is a long way to the economic recovery of Greece.
KWAME HOLMAN: The deal with private creditors was a key condition for Greece to receive a new European bailout totaling $172 billion. Final approval for the bailout could come next week.
In Syria, activists reported at least 54 people were killed nationwide. Smoke rose over the battered city of Homs again, as government tanks resumed shelling residential districts; 17 people were reported killed there. Despite the violence, crowds of protesters gathered after Friday prayers. They waved flags and signs and chanted anti-government slogans.
Meanwhile, the leader of the main opposition group rejected a call from U.N. envoy Kofi Annan to open talks with the Syrian regime. He said that would be pointless.
A vast throng of people in Bahrain rallied against the government in the Persian Gulf kingdom today. A main thoroughfare to a central square in Manama was packed with protesters. Some estimates put the number at more than 100,000. The protest was peaceful for the most part. Security forces did fire tear gas at some breakaway groups. The demonstration was largely led by Shiites hoping to push Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy into sharing power.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.