ECONOMY

A slight decline; investors hold on to gains

Stocks ended somewhat lower on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday, erasing early gains, as investors largely held on to their recent gains and avoided taking the plunge. The benchmark general index fell 0.26 percent to 1,901.48 points. It fell 0.21 percent on the week. Signs of fatigue after a two-and-a-half-month rally are obvious. Investors still remain very cautious after 42 months of almost continuous decline, from September 1999 to March 2003. Blue chips fell 0.35 percent, to 949.94 points, while mid-caps dropped 0.29 percent and small-caps declined 0.53 percent. Among sectoral indices, basic metals gained 1.38 percent and holding companies rose 1.15 percent. On the other hand, insurance stocks fell 3.39 percent and food and beverages firms, 1.70 percent. Turnover was 126.7 million euros, including several share packages, such as 1 million Alpha Bank shares, in three separate transactions. Decliners led gainers 202 to 102.