Bourse suffers worst loss in more than two years

Stocks took a plunge yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) in what market watchers called the worst session in over two years. The selling spree, led, it is said, by hedge funds, is partially the result of eurozone interest rate hikes that led foreign investors to rethink their strategy. But other analysts said that a correction was overdue, given the market’s recent frantic rise. They also pointed out that the average price-over-earnings (P/E) ratio, at 16.6, was the highest among eurozone bourses. The ASE composite share price index closed at 3,919.53 points, a decline of 109.49 points or 2.72 percent. The FTSE/Athex 20 index of blue chips declined 2.46 percent to close at 2,170.03 points, while mid-caps and small-caps declined 4.45 percent and 8.72 percent respectively. The FTSE/Athex International index declined 3.11 percent, closing at 5,473.03 points. Among blue chips, only betting company OPAP managed to buck the trend, rising 1.36 percent to 31.30 euros. Among the rest, the heaviest losses were sustained by technology holding company Intracom (down 10 percent to 5.40 euros) and ATEbank (7.96 percent to 5.32 euros). Of 321 traded shares, 11 gained, 302 declined and eight ended unchanged. Turnover reached 596.24 million euros, including 27.5 million in prearranged trades.