ECONOMY

Status switchover rocks bourse

The Greek stock market is entering a new era as of Wednesday following MSCI’s decision to downgrade the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) to “emerging” market status after being ranked among the world’s developed bourses for about 12 years. The switchover resulted in a huge number of transactions during the closing auctions on Tuesday that saw turnover skyrocket close to the billion-euro mark and the index shed nearly 4 percent.

The ATHEX general index closed at 1,151.66 points, giving up 3.85 percent from Monday’s 1,197.79 points. The large-cap FTSE/ATHEX 25 contracted 3.71 percent to end at 383.38 points.

Turnover came to 960.2 million euros, over five times Monday’s 180 million.

In total 37 stocks posted gains, 90 suffered losses and 22 ended unchanged.

The phenomenon of major packages changing hands is set to continue this morning after which the dust is expected to start settling in Athens, as institutional investors who only invest in developed markets depart and give way to various funds and more daring investors which have emerging markets on their radars.

The change in the profile of foreign players in the local market, in terms of both identity and strategy, is likely to bring in fresh capital, but whether they will also turn their attention to mid-caps and the all-but-forgotten small-caps on the market remains to be seen.

The 10 stocks to benefit from the ATHEX switchover to emerging status are the ones that make up the closely watched MSCI Greek market index: the OPAP gaming company, OTE telecom, National Bank, Public Power Corporation, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank, Jumbo, Titan Cement, Hellenic Petroleum and the Folli Follie Group.

There was a mixed pictureamong them on Tuesday, as non-banking chips posted big losses – with Folli Follie falling 8.80 percent, OPAP giving up 8.12 percent and OTE sliding 6.27 percent – while banks soared as Piraeus added 8.10 percent, National expanded by 5.02 percent and Alpha grew by 1.50 percent.

Market players pointed to some 25 million euros in transactions concerning blue chips that are not among the 10 stocks in the MSCI index, saying that this suggests we can expect to see a major price rise.