More profit-taking sends index below 2,400 pts

Shares fell for the second day in a row yesterday as investors continued to lock in recent gains, sharing concerns across Europe of a sooner-than-expected rate hike by the US Fed. «The market tracked European bourses today which were affected by hints by the US Fed that it might raise interest rates,» said analyst Elias Lazaris at Artion Securities. The general share index ended 0.95 percent softer at 2,391.73 points. Across Europe, markets slipped as investors used concerns about profit margin at a top European semiconductor group and a possible rate hike by the Fed to book recent gains. Banks, among the best bourse performers since the start of the year, continued to ease from their recent highs, with National Bank shedding 0.92 percent to 21.46 euros and EFG Eurobank losing 1.60 percent. Alpha Bank bucked the trend, adding 0.67 percent to 23.90 euros. «Alpha’s rise could either be flow-driven or the market could be forecasting better-than-expected 2003 results,» said Lazaris. Gaming operator OPAP fell 2.0 percent to 12.74 euros. Turnover fell to 158.08 million euros, with 28.02 million shares changing hands. Decliners led advancers 213 to 91, with 54 unchanged. (Reuters)

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