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Greek stocks have outperformed U.S. and China stocks so far this year

Scott Gamm

Debt-laden Greece has been experiencing a stock surge so far this year.

The Global X MSCI Greece ETF (GREK) is up roughly 34% year-to-date, compared to a 17% rise for the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index and a nearly 15% rise in the S&P 500 (^GSPC).

Socrates Lazaridis, CEO of the Athens Stock Exchange, attributes the move in Greece’s stock market to a few factors: improvements in the banking sector to tackle non-performing loans, a steadily performing non-financials sector and the manageability of Greece’s debt situation, which has made headlines for years.

“We have passed some 7-8 years with huge a wave of reforms and structural changes, and the problem now is manageable,” he said, referring to Greece’s debt.

Even with Greece’s stock surge so far this year, the aforementioned exchange traded fund is roughly flat over the past 12 months and is still below its more recent highs from January 2018.

Possible political risk

Going forward, Greece faces plenty of political risk, including the possibility of a new prime minister. General elections are set for July 7, months ahead of schedule as current Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces mounting political competition.

But this is actually calming Greece’s stock market, according to Lazaridis.

“This is a very positive decision and outcome,” Lazaridis told Yahoo Finance, referring to the early elections. “What investors and everybody in Greece were afraid of was a prolonged period of pre-elections. Now it is defined and any type of uncertainty is removed.”

Scott Gamm is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @ScottGamm.

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