Banks lead stock exchange 0.44 percent lower

Soft banks led the Athens bourse 0.44 percent lower yesterday with weak performances on European markets weighing on local sentiment. The Athens bourse’s general index reversed earlier gains, to end at 2,551.97 points. «The market’s negative swing followed a turnaround in European markets. The lack of domestic news means we’re following international markets a lot more closely,» said Nikos Gallousis, head of derivatives at Kappa Securities. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips slipped 0.46 percent to 1,388.36 points. The FTSE/ASE-40 index of mid-caps eased 0.12 percent and small-caps firmed 0.06 percent. Construction stocks bucked the trend, gaining 0.90 percent. «There was some aggressive profit-taking in the last few sessions and the stocks reacted to the sharp drop,» said a construction analyst. «Now that a number of mergers and changes have been announced in the sector, the shares are expected to follow the wider market more closely with less volatility.» Turnover was 97.60 million euros on volume of 17.6 million shares. Winners beat losers 173 to 138.(Reuters) Intracom wins bank tender