ECONOMY

Stocks return to levels unseen since April 1997

The first week of May was particularly disappointing for the local bourse, as stocks headed south and turnover showed no signs of recovery, remaining firmly below 100 million euros per day, as it has done since April 15.

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index ended on Friday at 1,370.10 points, shedding 4.50 percent from the previous Friday?s close. It remains to be seen how the market will respond on Monday to the various rumors and reports heard during the last three days about the Greek economy.

May has already obliterated the gains that the main index had made at the start of the year, with pressure again focusing on bank stocks.

Losses since the start of the year have reached 3 percent, with 2 billion euros of the bourse?s capitalization wiped out. The majority of stocks have returned to levels not seen since April 1997.

The lack of initiative on the part of the government is another blow for the market?s forces of reaction to the fall. The sporadic business developments which have taken place, such as the sale of a 9.5 percent stake in Folli Follie to a Chinese firm and the acquisition of a company by Quest Holdings for 1.2 million euros, have failed to affect market sentiment.

April was the third consecutive month when foreign investors were net sellers. Last month they liquidated stocks to the tune of 96.3 million euros.