ECONOMY

Stocks drop on merger worries, hold 2,500 mark

Weak blue chips led the Athens bourse lower yesterday but the market held the 2,500-point level as clouds over the merger of National with Alpha bank lingered. Brokers said the pledge by the two banks on Tuesday to stick to their merger deal – announced in November last year – failed to convince investors. «Recent developments concerning National and Alpha have hurt sentiment and put off retail investors from taking positions,» said Grigoris Karayiannopoulos, analyst at Bank of Cyprus Securities. National Bank trimmed earlier losses of 2 percent to end off 0.33 percent at 24.40 euros. Alpha Bank shed 0.11 percent to 18.62 euros. «Alpha Bank as a single entity will draw more investor interest. The stock has retreated to attractive levels,» said a bank analyst who declined to be named. The benchmark general index ended marginally off session lows at 2,502.18 points. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips lost 0.65 percent to 1,355.68 points. The FTSE/ASE-40 index of mid-caps lost 0.28 percent and small-caps fell 0.24 percent.Turnover was 107.84 million euros on 18.5 million shares traded.(Reuters)