ECONOMY

ASE ends its run of gains as positive news dries up

Stocks ended lower yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), tracking negative sentiment across Europe, with telecoms equipment maker Intracom in the spotlight after it sold its Panafon stake to Britain’s Vodafone. «Trading started on a positive note but later followed the downturn in European bourses. The market seems to be consolidating at current levels in the absence of supportive newsflow,» said analyst Vassilis Vlastarakis at Contalexis Financial Services. The benchmark general share index ended 0.60 percent lower at 2,170.05 points. Intracom shed 2.18 percent to 5.38 euros, ending a two-day rally sparked by the sale of its 9.4 percent stake in Panafon to Vodafone for around 317 million euros. The group will use the cash to cut debt. The company reported a bigger-than-expected drop in nine-month group pretax profit after minorities following the market’s close, hit by delays in some projects and adverse global conditions. Gaming operator OPAP was the biggest blue chip decliner, retreating 3.09 percent to 10.68 euros, as it traded ex-interim dividend of 0.30 euro per share for fiscal year 2003. Traders said portfolio reshuffling among foreign institutional investors weighed on bellwether National Bank, which lost 2.39 percent to 18.82 euros. Turnover rose to 473.06 million euros. Decliners outnumbered advancers 197 to 104, with 56 closing unchanged. (Reuters)