Banks pull index down as trade slumps

Equities fell for the third day running yesterday, with pressure from National Bank weighing on the benchmark general index and trade volume slumping. National, which began trading without the right to the 2002 dividend of 0.45 euros per share, fell 5.5 percent while the Athens benchmark general index dropped 0.46 percent, to 1,704.88 points. Banks lost 1.98 percent, losing recent upward momentum after both Alpha Bank and National traded ex-dividend. Brokers said a lackluster picture from European bourses was no help. Auto shares pushed European stock markets lower after German data showed new car registrations in Europe’s biggest car market had dropped 4 percent in April. Blue chips fell 1.01 percent to 841.43 points while mid-caps lost 0.33 percent. Small-caps gained 0.48 percent. Turnover fell to 72.03 million euros, with 20.6 million shares changing hands. Winners beat losers 196 to 101 with 58 stocks ending unchanged on 355 traded. (Reuters)