ECONOMY

ASE set to rebound?

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) rebounded after three straight losing sessions on Friday at the first sign of a further round of privatizations, provided by the government’s announcement of plans to reduce its 51 percent stake in heavyweight gaming firm OPAP. The rebound, which did not benefit OPAP itself, as it ended 0.36 percent lower, was insufficient to recoup the losses of earlier in the week. The general index closed 1.86 percent lower than the previous week, at 2,893.12 points. Under EU rules, OPAP can retain its official monopoly for another 15 years. Turnover totaled 755.72 million euros, an average of 188.93 million per session, compared to 216.19 million euros the week before. All FTSE indices declined: the blue chip index dropped 2.08 percent, mid-caps 2.01 percent and small-caps 1.65 percent. Only two sectoral indices escaped losses, wholesale commerce and refineries, with respective weekly gains of 0.73 and 0.15 percent. IT equipment and solutions was the sector worst hit by sales, ending 5.16 percent down. Holdings and basic metals followed, shedding 3.66 and 3.63 percent respectively. Heavyweight banks dropped 2.70 percent. The selling run early in the week (9.86 percent was the March total) restricted the ASE’s gains this year to 2.47 percent. The bourse has gained 87.73 percent during its current two-year upswing, mainly on blue chip strength. A number of analysts take the view that the rebound could well continue this week, on the back of recently realized liquidity.