- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece on Tuesday raised €1.625 billion ($2.04 billion) in a debt auction — its first since getting bailed out in May — which attracted strong investor interest.

The country’s Public Debt Management Agency said the sale of 26-week treasury bills was oversubscribed 3.64 times, at an interest yield of 4.65 percent.

The sale was seen as an important test of Greece’s financial recovery effort amid continued Europe-wide concern over sovereign debt.

The debt agency said the final amount taken was €1.625 billion, after it accepted an additional €375 million ($471 million) in non-competitive bids for the auction of €1.25 billion.

The government has said it hopes to return to international bond markets with long-term debt issues in 2011.

Debt-strapped Greece narrowly avoided default in May, when it received the first installment of a €110 billion rescue package from euro-currency partners and the International Monetary Fund.

To secure the loans, Greece’s center-left government imposed painful austerity measures and began overhauling its pension and labor systems, angering labor unions and triggering a series of strikes and protests.

In Athens, the ancient Acropolis was closed for several hours Tuesday by site workers who were demanding backpay.

Flights are also set to be disrupted Thursday, with air traffic controllers planning a work stoppage between 0800 and 1200 GMT.

On Monday, the Finance Ministry said Greece’s bloated budget deficit has been cut by 46 percent in the first half of the year, beating government targets.

It said overspending was reduced to €9.6 billion in that period from €17.8 billion in the first half of 2009.

Greece has promised to bring the deficit from a hefty 13.6 percent of annual output in 2009 to 8.1 percent in 2010.