ECONOMY

Profit-taking halts ASE’s five-session advance

Shares ended lower on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) yesterday, ending a five-day upward trend, with banks – which had spearheaded the advance – taking a breather after recent gains ahead of first-quarter results later in the week. «We saw some profit-taking today after recent gains in blue chips. The market stayed above the 2,500 level, still on an up trend,» said portfolio manager Costas Bouropoulos at Kyklos Securities. The general share index eased 0.29 percent to 2,523 points, tracking European markets, which drifted lower as investors mulled companies’ first-quarter earnings. Shares in National Bank ended virtually flat at 24.52 euros. Alpha Bank, which reports first-quarter results today, before the market opens, retreated 0.15 percent to 26.42 euros. Gaming group OPAP bucked the trend, adding 2.09 percent to 15.64 euros. Traders said a spate of positive research notes on the stock fueled buying interest. Smith Barney on Monday raised its price target on OPAP shares to 15.80 euros, citing the success of the company’s new Kino game. Blue chips fell 0.30 percent, mid-caps were down 0.48 percent while small-caps lost 0.70 percent. Turnover rose to 171.81 million euros, with 25.45 million shares changing hands. Losers outnumbered winners, 229 to 80. (Reuters)