ECONOMY

Index slightly lower; sudden moves unlikely

Shares continued to range trade yesterday, ending slightly softer ahead of a long weekend, with index heavyweight OTE Telecom outperforming ahead of its earnings release next week. Expiration of stock index futures and options did not spark volatility with traders who said the benchmark index was likely to stay within the 2,450-2,490 point range next week. «The market is likely to continue rangebound next week, keeping one eye on earnings and another on the elections as we get closer to March 7,» said a trader. The Athens Stock and Futures exchanges will be closed on Monday, February 23, a public holiday. The benchmark general share index slipped 0.15 percent to close at 2,465.39 points with OTE’s 1.11 percent advance providing support. The group will report 2003 financial results on February 26. Piraeus Bank lost 1.0 percent to 9.86 euros after reporting a 53 percent rise in 2003 net profit on higher trading gains and the consolidation of ETBA Bank a day earlier. Blue chips slipped 0.11 percent to 1,289.64 points, with March futures on the index settling at a premium to fair value. Mid-caps gave up 0.81 percent. Turnover eased to 104.7 million euros, with losers leading gainers 143 to 141. (Reuters)