National Bank drags down other stocks

Equities closed weaker yesterday led by the country’s largest bank, National Bank, which disappointed investors by slashing its 2002 dividend. National ended 2.62 percent down at 11.90 euros after it more than halved last year’s proposed payout on Thursday to 0.45 euros per share, down from 1.10 euros in 2001, and reported a 55.9 percent drop in its net profit, bigger than the market consensus forecast. The Athens bank sub-index closed down 1.16 percent; the general index fell 0.74 percent lower to 1,680.46 points. «Investors adopted a more cautious stance… anticipating the announcements of other blue chip results, this is why volumes remained low,» a broker said. Blue chips were down 1.01 percent at 831.27 points. Mid-caps fell 0.49 percent and small-caps, 1.19 percent. Turnover was 57.24 million euros, with 16.3 million shares changing hands. Losers outnumbered winners by 229 to 73, with 51 shares unchanged on 353 traded. (Reuters)