ECONOMY

Week ends with a slide

Shares closed with losses of about 1 percent on Friday as investors booked gains in National Bank and Alpha Bank after their recent gains fueled by strong first-quarter results. «Banks are near their year-to-date peaks, making them more expensive than their European peers, so some profit-taking was justified,» said analyst Elias Lazaris at Artion Securities. The general share index closed 1.02 percent down to 2,517.62 points, on the tailcoats of European bourses. It declined 0.18 percent this week. Banks retreated 1.37 percent. The sector has gained about 9 percent this month. National Bank lost 0.56 percent to 24.82 euros, giving up part of gains made in the runup to its first-quarter results, with investors shrugging off increases in price targets on the stock by major international brokerages. Alpha Bank, which has advanced 3.7 percent in April, closed 2.11 percent down at 26 euros. Traders said the remaining banks due to report quarterly results soon will be in focus next week. Piraeus Bank is scheduled to release first-quarter result on May 4. Traders said selling pressure also spread to OTE Telecom, after recent gains. The stock fell 1.78 percent to 12.14 euros. Blue chips were down 1.08 percent, mid-caps shed 0.99 percent and small-caps lost 0.38 percent. Turnover came to 147.83 million euros, with 29 million shares changing hands. Decliners led advancers 188 to 115. (Reuters)