Market faces big changes

According to official statistics from the Athens Derivatives Exchange (ADEX), investor interest in derivatives has soared: This week trade volume more than doubled over the previous one, partly due to the expiration of a series of contracts. On options on the blue chip FTSE/ASE-20 index alone, the number of contracts between Monday and Thursday was 31,279. During the same period, average turnover at the ADEX was 135.13 million euros. At the same time, real turnover on the Athens Stock Exchange averaged about 100 million and, if prearranged transactions are added reached something close to the ADEX figure. The stock market has now become a professionals’ market, and these are the same professionals active in the derivatives market. It is likely that some stock movement can be explained only if correlated with moves on the ADEX. After all, 70 percent of the ASE’s business focuses on about 20 stocks. The price of almost all the rest has fallen below 50 cents. The professionals’ domination of the stock market is not necessarily a negative development. However, the long-term survival of a market depends on the opportunities it provides for retail investors, the much-abused «small fry,» even if those opportunities do not last for very long. It has long been known that the size and the dynamics of the Greek economy cannot support a stock market with 350 or more stocks being traded. And, since it is extremely unlikely that the economy will expand spectacularly, the stock market itself must change, either by being subsumed by a larger market or by expanding into other markets. Global trends are clear-cut. If no moves are made quickly, then the solution will be provided by the interested parties themselves, who will not resist temptations to relocate. If the market doesn’t change, the main players will leave.