Small-caps crash-land

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index shed 1.98 percent last week, closing at 2,313.5 points on Friday, pulled down by a run on small- and medium-capitalization stocks. Weekly turnover rose to 591.89 million euros, a daily average of 118.38 million, against 95.06 million euros the week before. Analysts consider that the selling pressure on small- and medium-caps will be difficult to stop in the short term, as big domestic institutional investors are restructuring portfolios. They point out that more than 90 stocks recorded new intra-session yearly lows on Friday, and that selling pressure extended to blue chips toward the end of the session. Negative sentiment was adversely affected by new restrictive trading rules announced by the Capital Market Commission and a 1-million-euro fine on securities firm Acropolis. The FTSE/ASE Small-Cap 80 dropped 6.58 percent, the FTSE/ASE Mid-40 fell 4.83 percent, and the blue chip FTSE/ASE-20 ended 1.97 percent lower. All sectoral indices declined except refineries, which gained 5.29 percent, bolstered by a strong performance of Hellenic Petroleum. The insurance index led losers by ending 12.28 percent lower, followed by textiles, IT equipment-solutions and construction, all of which shed more than 9 percent. Among individual stocks, only 39 gained while 316 declined on 369 traded. European Reliance bucked the trend of other insurance peers by posting gains of 12.09 percent, followed by Varangis, which gained 8.53 percent. Ballis Chemicals led losers, crashing 44.71 percent.