ECONOMY

Worries over blue chip profits weigh on index

Shares followed European markets downward yesterday, with blue chips losing ground on profit-taking and expected first-quarter profit by index heavyweight OTE Telecom, traders said. «The market was dragged lower by weak European sentiment, weighed by high oil price worries,» said analyst Costas Asimakopoulos at Prelium Securities. «Investors are holding back, and this was reflected in the drop in trading volume amid international uncertainty and also before remaining first-quarter results from a series of blue chips,» he added. The general share index shed 0.76 percent to 2,328.85 points. OTE, which is expected to report a 33 percent drop in first-quarter net profit when it announces results tomorrow, closed 0.41 percent lower at 9.78 euros, while PPC, whose results are seen to remain flat, fell 2.76 percent to 19.06 euros. OPAP was one of the few bright spots among the blue chip index constituents, closing 0.13 percent higher at 15.54 euros on what traders said was optimism about its results on Friday. Blue chips fell 0.96 percent, mid-caps were down 0.53 percent, while small-caps lost 1.10 percent. Turnover fell to 99.56 million euros, with 16.7 million shares changing hands. Losers outnumbered winners 229 to 77. (Reuters)