Profit-taking pulls index back near 2,600 points

The rally of Greek shares since the beginning of the month was cut short yesterday as investors consolidated recent gains. The general index of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) ended 1.28 percent lower at 2,602.02 points. Bank stocks, which had led the rebound, came under the strongest pressure, while mid- and small-caps put up resistance and advancers outnumbered decliners at the closing, although most sectoral indices headed south. The banking index led the decline, shedding 2.31 percent, with Alpha and Eurobank particularly affected. Intracom shed 3.33 percent. Blue chips declined 1.69 percent, while mid- and small-caps gained 0.36 percent and 0.22 percent respectively. Most analysts said the correction was expected but will wait for the coming trading sessions before they form a medium-term view of where the market is going. They stress it would be encouraging if the index did not fall below 2,588 points and that if it broke through 2,500 points again, the trend would change to a decline. Turnover fell to 155.23 million euros and winners led losers 145 to 136, with 80 share prices remaining unchanged. The most marketable securities were National and Alpha banks.