The shares of Athens-listed banks leapt by more than 8% today following a flurry of good news. Greece’s ten-year sovereign bond spread dropped below 800 basis points over German bunds. Equity strategists upgraded their opinion of the country’s shares. Finally, and perhaps most importantly from a psychological standpoint, Piraeus Bank managed to raise just over €800m in a rights issue.
These are all encouraging developments, but conditions for Greek lenders remain dire. The ten-year government bond yield, at around 11%, remains unsustainable. The equity upgrade, by Credit Suisse, was merely from “underweight” to “benchmark”, hardly a ringing endorsement. And despite Piraeus Bank’s capital-raising success and today’s surge in banks’ shares, the lenders still trade at deep discounts to book value; markets rate Piraeus Bank’s assets at only 35 cents on the euro.