ECONOMY

Investors look for signs on momentum

Buying momentum on the Athens bourse that has pushed Greek stocks almost 20 percent higher since the start of the year may weaken this week after sales volumes dropped on Thursday and Friday, according to brokers.

The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index ended at 1,661.68 points on Friday, having advanced 19 percent since the start of the year. The rise is the second highest among global stock markets, with Mongolia leading the gainers, up 66 percent in 2011.

Brokers said that the upward cycle in Athens may be ending as daily turnover dropped by about 100 million euros over the last two sessions of the week from 240 to 225 million euros seen on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

Banks were the big winners last week, adding 7.5 percent, as talk that Brussels is preparing a comprehensive solution to Greece’s debt woes turned buyers to heavily beaten financials that have priced in a drop in the value of their bond portfolios.

Meanwhile abroad, financial market wobbles caused by turmoil in the Middle East have done little to stop investors positioning themselves for a further rally in stocks and other riskier assets as economic growth accelerates around the world.

In fact, rising oil and food prices – the former exacerbated by the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia – are reminding investors of growing inflation risks, which also reinforce the case to buy equities and commodities rather than bonds and money market instruments.