ECONOMY

Banks take a bruising as Cyprus stocks hammered

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus stocks were hammered across the board, with bank stocks taking a bruising as investors, scorched by a relentless plunge, continued to stay well away from the bourse, which was disrupted by another bomb threat yesterday. The all-share index lost 3.23 percent to hit a 28-month low of 132.45 points as 69 of 162 issues traded hit new year-lows. The market…is reflecting six-monthly results, since those which have been announced are disappointing, said Citi Principal analyst Marios Mavrides. Expectations are that those companies which have results pending will be the same. The bourse is now looking at its lowest level since May 1999. That year, the market ratcheted up a phenomenal 688-percent increase to reach an all-time high of 881 points. But a raft of new issues, a shortage of equity paper, a cash squeeze and a crisis of confidence combined to bring the market down. The Bank of Cyprus dropped six cents to 1.89, Laiki five cents to 1.34 and Hellenic fell six cents to 78 cents, hitting fresh year-lows. Hellenic is due to announce its six-monthly results at the end of this week. Trading on the market, which has lurched to successive year-lows for the past week, with the exception of last Friday, was interrupted 20 minutes by a bomb scare. The session was disrupted for more than an hour last Friday by another hoax, which was blamed on a disgruntled investor. Turnover thinned to 4.12 million pounds ($6.4 million), on a volume of 9.9 million shares. Chances of an early rebound appeared remote as most investors entered the market with a mind-set geared to short-term gains. They are very nervous. Those coming into the market with a long-term view are in extremely short supply. Most balk at the slightest drop, said a floor trader.