ECONOMY

Banks keep the momentum up

The Athens Stock Exchange last week rode the positive market climate elsewhere in Europe – with some bourses recapturing or reapproaching five-year highs – and the US, where the Dow Jones renewed its all-time high. The general index consolidated itself above the 4,000-point level, ending the week with gains of 2.42 percent at 4,080.89. Blue chips, especially banks, were the driving force behind the buoyancy, receiving a large number of orders from London-based institutional investors. The blue chip FTSE/Athex 20 index ended the week 3.32 percent higher, the FTSE/Athex Mid-40 advanced 1.92 percent and the FTSE/Athex Small-Cap 80 added 1.84 percent. In sectoral indices, banks surged 4.37 percent, but construction gained even more, 4.52 percent. Food & beverages was the only one to end in negative territory, closing down 0.03 percent. Weekly turnover dropped to 1.66 billion euros, a daily average of 332.16 million, against 441.25 million the week before. Analysts are largely attributing the positive stock market momentum in Europe to expectations of a slowdown in the pace of interest rate increases and to upbeat forecasts of third-quarter corporate results. In Greece, things are not much different but there are additional expectations of large business deals under way, particularly in banks, energy, information technology and commerce. These deals are expected to spur realignments and create new realities in their sectors. It therefore appears that the present period is one of evaluation of past developments, and, even more, of those expected mainly in the banking sector.