Index sheds over 1 pct as investors lock in gains

Stocks dropped again yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), prompted by the negative mood in other European markets. Investors rushed to lock in short-term gains, exacerbating the downward trend. The ASE general index closed at 3,349.17 points, a drop of 36.36 points or 1.07 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips declined 1.03 percent to close at 1,857.10 points, while mid- and small-caps declined 0.87 percent and 1.14 percent respectively. Only two blue chips ended in positive territory: mobile telecommunications service provider CosmOTE (up 0.35 percent to 16.98 euros) and cement producer Titan (0.14 percent to 27.76 euros). OTE and bottler Coca-Cola HBC ended unchanged. Among the rest, refiners were once again hit hardest, with Hellenic Petroleum plunging 4.96 percent to close at 12.26 euros and Motor Oil shedding 4.68 percent, closing at 17.92 euros. Other hard-hit stocks included Intracom (down 2.45 percent to 5.58 euros) and Emporiki Bank (1.77 percent to 24.36 euros). Of 328 traded stocks, 69 gained, 204 declined and 55 ended unchanged. Turnover reached 227.22 million euros, including 43.91 million in prearranged trades. Chief among them were the sale of a 6.5 percent stake in Lambrakis Press (5,446,239 shares at 2.75 euros each) and that of 875,000 OTE shares, in four packets.