Lack of news deepens bearish mood

Equities took a downturn yesterday, tracking soft European bourses, with state-controlled refiner group Hellenic Petroleum falling over 4 percent on news that the sale of 23 percent of the refiner was still up in the air. The benchmark general index closed 2.42 percent lower at 1,726.33 points. Analysts said a lack of corporate news deepened the bearish mood on the bourse. «It was a disappointing session. There are concerns about a war in Iraq and the market seems to be looking for a reason to fall,» said analyst Elias Athanassiou at Selas Investments. Blue chips fell 2.35 percent to 852.45 points, while banks lost 2.38 percent and telecom stocks lost 3.09 percent. Publisher Lambrakis fell 3.49 percent to 2.49 euros, as investors locked in gains after the shares gained 27 percent in five sessions. Turnover was 68.68 million euros, with 20 million shares changing hands. Losers beat winners 330 to 14, with 11 shares unchanged on 355 traded. (Reuters)