Stocks retreated yesterday, led by National Bank and Alpha Bank, both of whose stocks came under heavy selling pressure despite posting significant gains in first-half profits. The only excuse for this decline was the negative day in Europe caused by new oil price hikes, although the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) had not followed the European bourses in their rise on Thursday. The ASE general index ended at 2,319.30 points, a drop of 32.37 points or 1.38 percent. On a weekly basis, the index dropped 0.13 percent and, for the whole of July, it dropped 1.27 percent. All Financial Times indices declined. Blue chips lost 1.60 percent, mid-caps 1.16 percent and small-caps 0.74 percent. Banks lost 2.07 percent. National lost 2.96 percent, to close at 17.72 euros, and Alpha Bank dropped 2.76 percent, to close at 19.70 euros. Emporiki bucked the trend, rising 0.11 percent to close at 18.96 euros. CosmOTE also did well, rising 0.90 percent to 13.40 euros, but telecommunications equipment maker Intracom and metals group Viohalco suffered, dropping 3.35 percent and 3.04 percent respectively. Among 352 stocks traded, 88 gained, 205 declined and 59 ended unchanged. Turnover rose to 136.74 million euros, of which 23.57 million concerned prearranged trades.