ECONOMY

ASE dances to the tune of blue chips

The Athens bourse underwent a correction after several sessions on Wednesday, as mostly domestic institutionals cashed in on recent profits in banks and telecoms. The general index shed 0.67 percent to close at 2,818.33 points. The pressure noted on small-caps in previous sessions continued and only insurance, publishing/printing, information technology, among sectoral indices, escaped the decline. The blue chip FTSE/ASE 20 index ended 0.82 lower, mid-caps lost 0.22 percent and small-caps 0.53 percent. Banks shed 1.04 percent and telecoms 2.13 percent. Banks National and Alpha both declined, in contrast to Emporiki, the Public Power Corporation and Hellenic Petroleum. Turnover rose to 264.76 million euros. Decliners again beat advancers 202 to 78, with 72 stock prices unchanged. Stockbrokers are on the whole cautiously optimistic for the bourse in 2005, sticking mainly to certain blue chips or others accompanied by favorable investment bank reports. But they also foresee that a large number of listed firms will be struck off the ASE, as banks are exercising strong pressure on the over-debted enterprises, and the Capital Market Commission is tightening up its regulations.