Index ends flat for second day in a row

Soft telecom shares offset marginal gains in banks yesterday, with the benchmark index ending flat as 2002 earnings from financials kept interest high in the sector. Brokers said investors adopted a cautious approach while waiting for Alpha Bank results – due today – and National Bank’s earnings, released after the close of trade. «We had two negative surprises with National. There were more taxes paid than expected and a lower dividend. This could put some pressure on the stock,» said Sofia Skourti, analyst at Marfin Hellenic Securities. Banks firmed 0.07 percent, while the Athens bourse benchmark general index eased 0.03 percent to 1,692.97 points. Blue chips finished unchanged at 839.74 points. Mid-caps fell 0.68 percent and small-caps eased 0.01 percent. Turnover was 62.42 million euros, with 19.3 million shares changing hands. Losers beat winners 184 to 107, with 67 shares unchanged on 358 traded. (Reuters)