ASE cherishes the return of small investors

The positive climate in the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) continues as stocks are poised for a further rise. The impressive success of OPAP’s public offering this week showed that small private investors are slowly returning to the stock market and are ever more daring to position themselves again, as traders point out. Besides the reappearance of private investors, the success of OPAP also proved that foreigners not only maintain their big stakes in Greek companies but also continue to channel new funds, pushing prices even higher. Therefore, as soon as the OPAP public offering was concluded, a number of aggressive buy orders, from domestic investors, too, have led the general index within just a few sessions from 3,100 points to over 3,250. The ASE’s momentum was somewhat hampered by the fresh terrorist activity in London, but this was not enough to dampen the positive climate in markets across the world. It is clear now that markets not only have learned to operate under the prospect of terrorism, but have actually developed a strong shield. Investors do not rush into massive liquidations; after the terrible experiences of September 11, 2001 in the USA, of the March 11, 2004 attacks in Madrid and this month’s attacks in London, they have realized that terrorism, apart from aimlessly killing innocent people, cannot derail entire economies. The markets’ cool reaction is characteristically reflected by their reaction following each terrorist act: The attacks on New York and Washington created a daily fluctuation in excess of 11 percent. After last year’s tragic attack in Spain the fluctuation was considerably smaller, while after the recent bombs in London the markets simply paused in their upward course. As a result, and despite the London strikes, capital markets currently stand at the highest level of the last few years. For the third year in succession the ASE is moving upward, covering a significant portion of the ground lost since 1999. However, this rise only applies to a small number of stocks, mainly the blue chips of the FTSE/ASE-20 index and a few selected mid-cap stocks. All other firms not only have no rise to write home about, but are still losing ground. From the start of the year until today the general index has gained 16.41 percent, with banks stealing the show once more, rising by 17.83 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index is up by 18.09 percent and the FTSE-40 has risen by 15.51 percent, but the FTSE-80 has gained no more than 1.26 percent.

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