ECONOMY

Market steady; technical problems hold up start

Shares ended flat yesterday, with the market taking a breather after a rally at the beginning of the year which saw the general index gain 6.1 percent to hit a 19-month high. Trading at the Athens Stock Exchange started two hours late, delayed by technical problems. «There was some nervousness at the start of the session due to the trading delay, with the market also marked by profit-taking,» said fund manager Vassilis Antoniadis at Marfin Mutual Funds. The market was also reacting to the correction in US markets on Friday and across European markets earlier in the day, said analyst Vassilis Vlastarakis at Contalexis Financial Services. The general share index ended 0.04 percent higher at 2,404.33 points. Telecom equipment maker Intracom was the biggest blue chip gainer, advancing 4.48 percent to 6.06 euros. «Buying interest in the stock today may be linked to the expected improvement in full-year 2003 earnings relative to nine-month results,» said Vlastarakis. General Bank fell 3.15 percent to 6.14 euros, with France’s Societe Generale tipped as the preferred bidder for a controlling stake. Turnover fell to 131.08 million euros, with 24.85 million shares changing hands. Decliners led advancers 167 to 123, with 67 unchanged. (Reuters)