ECONOMY

H1 results keep momentum up

In a relatively hot first week of August for Greek stocks, the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) benchmark gained 3.40 percent, closing at 3,844.92 points on Friday. The market seems to have escaped the stagnation of the 3,600-3,700 point level of the last two months due to a number of favorable factors: the reporting of positive 2006 first-half results by blue chips, the virtual conclusion of the privatization of Emporiki Bank, and the upbeat mood in foreign markets, which seem to be adjusting relatively well to higher interest rates. The positive effect of first-half reports was further bolstered by new rumors of merger-and-acquisition activity in various sectors apart from blue chips. All sectoral indices but one headed north, led by industrial products and services with gains of 6.83 percent. Technology and insurance followed, adding 5.53 percent and 5.11 percent, respectively. Analysts see trends in foreign markets as the predominant factor next week, given the expected lack of news from domestic business and the stock-market scene over the next 10 days to substantially differentiate the climate. If the upbeat sentiment in foreign markets is sustained, it is expected that positive first-half results will continue to be reflected on share prices for most of August. Weekly turnover rose to 1.38 billion euros, an average of 275.73 million per session, against 239.27 million in the previous week. The three most marketable securities were Bank of Cyprus, National Bank and Emporiki Bank.