Banks push index lower

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index declined 0.94 percent last week, closing at 2,610.99 points on Friday, as profit-taking took its toll on blue chips, especially banks. Weekly turnover shot up to 1,395 million euros, representing an average per session of 279 million. The government’s placement of 24.7 million shares of National Bank on Wednesday accounted for 592 million euros of the total turnover. In terms of the Financial Times indices, blue chips shed 2.03 percent, as interest shifted to attractively priced small- and mid-caps, which advanced 3.55 percent and 3.28 percent respectively, despite edging down on Friday after a consecutive string of winning sessions. Besides banks, refineries, printing/publishing and textiles also declined, but all other sectoral indices headed north, with basic metals outperforming and showing a 7.29 percent rise. Construction and textiles followed. Advancers outnumbered decliners 271 to 71 while 26 share prices remained unchanged. Vernicos Yachts outperformed with gains of 54.51 percent, while Domus Investment fund headed deep south with a 31.82 percent loss. The most marketable securities were National Bank, gaming firm OPAP and Alpha Bank. Analysts expect the first two sessions this week to show whether it can stabilize at the level of the two recent year-highs above 2,600 points or whether this represents a ceiling in the short term. Most seem to believe that the general index can go higher, but the reversal of gains of small- and mid-caps on Friday would suggest that a further rise depends on blue chips.