ECONOMY

Equities slide, index just above 2,600 points

Equities lost over 1 percent yesterday, landing the Athens benchmark general index a whisker above the 2,600 mark as investors continued to hold back. The general index ended 1.39 percent lower at 2,601.51 points, with weakness at the start of the session deepening as European bourses failed to inspire in the absence of major local news. «We had very low volume again, with investors standing back,» said analyst Michalis Katsikas at Pentedekas Securities. He said investor sentiment was also feeling the draft from a three-day cold snap in Greece which could impact food prices and push inflation higher. Turnover was slightly improved at 83.97 million euros from 67.27 million euros a day earlier on volume of 16 million shares. «The main characteristic is very thin volumes and as long as this persists the market may head lower. But with prices falling, buying interest could perk up later in the week,» said one dealer. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips fell 1.26 percent to 1,423.27 points with banks retreating 1.25 percent. The FTSE/ASE-40 index of mid-caps shed 1.73 percent and small-caps fell 2.27 percent.(Reuters) «They were all unprepared, the public and the state mechanism,» says Meletios Mavridis, mayor of Kato Nevrokopi, in Drama, in northern Greece, referring to how Attica dealt with the heavy snow. «Such problems are part of everyday life here in Nevrokopi, in the natural deep freeze of Greece,» he says. «We have learned to walk on ice, to repair damage to the water supply and sewer systems immediately, and generally to act calmly without complaining.»