ECONOMY

Volatile ASE still falling

Greek stocks ended deeper south last week, after wide fluctuations which showed that the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) is directly affected by foreign trends. The general index ended 0.64 percent lower on Friday than a week earlier, at 2,931.76 points. Total weekly turnover, including block trades, rose only slightly to 751.64 million euros, an average per session of 150.33 million, against a year-low of 149.09 million the week before. Mid-caps lost the most ground. The FTSE/ASE Mid-40 index declined 1.87 percent, the blue chip FTSE/ASE-20 shed 0.73 percent and the FTSE/ASE Small-Cap 80 0.57 percent. The composite FTSE/ASE-140 index receded 0.86 percent, closing at 3,434.42 points. Only telecoms and construction escaped the general decline of sectoral indices, with respective gains of 4.87 and 2.76 percent. IT equipment-solutions was the biggest loser, ending 4.69 percent lower, closely followed by information technology (down 4.46 percent). Heavyweight banks shed 1.74 percent. Of 349 traded stocks, decliners outnumbered gainers 222 to 94, while 33 ended unchanged. Besides the low turnover and the volatile sentiment, analysts note that the ASE is now at the highest point of a two-year cycle, which requires tangible prospects of improvement if it is to keep up the momentum. But they also point out that it holds a comparative advantage over its peers in similar economies, in the form of the favorable prospects of an, admittedly, low number of listed firms in neighboring Balkan nations. The number of stocks now at their year-lows is more than 140.