ECONOMY

Banks lead ASE down 1.78 pct after Alpha results

Weak financials led the Athens bourse lower yesterday, with Alpha Bank ending off 0.68 percent after uninspiring 2001 results made investors nervous ahead of more bank earnings expected next week. «Generally, there are concerns about the 2001 profitability of the larger banking groups. This selling pressure then spread to the rest of the market,» said Costas Zareifopoulos, analyst at Pentedekas Securities. Alpha Bank ended at 17.62 euros as investors reacted to its news after the close of trading on Thursday that group pretax profit fell 7.8 percent from a year ago, at the bottom end of market expectations. The Athens benchmark general index shed 1.78 percent to 2,351.66 points, ending a down week with overall losses of 137.12 points or 5.5 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips shed 1.73 percent to 1,281.27 points and telecom stocks lost 1.25 percent, in line with European peers. The FTSE/ASE-40 index of mid-caps dropped 2.27 percent and small-caps fell 2.22 percent. Total turnover was 101.21 million euros on volume of 18.4 million shares. (Reuters)