ECONOMY

ASE stays up despite banks

Closely linked with the performance of foreign markets, the Athens bourse (ASE) maintained the previous week’s gains last week. The general index closed 0.43 percent higher on Friday than a week earlier, at 3,583.73 points. The gains were maintained despite the underperformance of the blue chip FTSE/Athex 20 index, which closed 0.60 percent lower. In contrast, the FTSE/Athex Small-Cap 80 surged 4.58 percent and the FTSE/Athex Mid-40 added 1.92 percent. Only four of the 17 sectoral indices headed south, including banks which fared the worst with a loss of 1.86 percent. Technology stocks outperformed with gains of 10.53 percent. Media and chemicals were up 7.67 percent and 5.81 percent respectively for the week. Market volatility dropped markedly, but the rather stagnant picture was due to a generally guarded attitude on the part of investors, attested by the drop in total turnover to 1.495 billion euros, or 299.0 million per session, against 379.1 million euros the week before. Technical analysts view 3,700 points as the next resistance level, where an increase in turnover will definitely be needed to consolidate the recovery trend from the recent losses. Analysts also take the view that if the climate in international markets had been better, the Athex general index would have risen to much higher levels, in view of the new round of merger and acquisition activity which is currently focused on Emporiki Bank. Markets are awaiting the US Federal Reserve’s decision on whether to further raise its benchmark rate on Wednesday.