ECONOMY

Profit-taking in banks and telecoms hits index

Greek shares ended lower yesterday, out of kilter with upbeat European markets as investors took some cash out of bank and telecoms stocks after recent gains. The benchmark general share index fell 1.25 percent to 2,414.79 points. Upcoming general elections and momentum from the last quarter of 2003 should keep the Greek market buoyant in the medium term, said a fund manager. Banks led the decliners, with bellwether National Bank shedding 2.08 percent to 21.66 euros and Alpha Bank retreating 1.82 percent to 23.74 euros. «Banks and telecoms have advanced strongly since the start of the year which is why we see short-term profit-taking in these stocks,» said analyst Nikos Kolios at Dynamic Securities. EFG Eurobank traded 2.29 percent down to 16.22 euros, while Piraeus Bank lost 2.30 percent to 10.20 euros. OTE Telecom also bore the brunt of profit-taking, ending 1.62 percent lower at 12.14 euros. Construction firm Olympic Technical shed 6.15 percent to 3.36 euros, down from intrasession highs. The company, caught in the middle of a political scandal over a land deal, said it would start legal proceedings for material and moral damages. Turnover fell to 161.34 million euros, with 28.14 million shares changing hands. Decliners outnumbered advancers 278 to 44, with 29 unchanged. (Reuters)