Blue chips come under pressure

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) last week moved fully in line with foreign bourses which felt the impact of oil prices rising to a record high of $89 and the dollar dropping to as low as 1.43 against the euro. Greek bank stocks came especially under strong selling pressure on Tuesday and Thursday. The ATHEX general index closed 1.88 percent lower than a week earlier on Friday, at 5,190.32 points. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index shed 2.08 percent, the mid-cap FTSE/ATHEX 40 fell 1.22 percent and the small-cap FTSE/ATHEX 80 was 0.71 percent lower. Petroleum and telecom stocks were the most hit, their respective sectoral indices slumping 5.05 percent and 3.45 percent, respectively. Only insurance and travel & entertainment held their own. Currently, the bourse is awash in rumors of mergers and acquisitions but no actual developments. After a period of liquidations, institutionals appear to be returning, eyeing blue chip interim dividends before the end of the year, but the government threw cold water on hopes that new privatization placements in 2008 would include OTE telecom and the Public Power Corporation (PPC). A medium-term trend is expected to set in this week, as the first nine-month results will start being posted. The week’s most important business development was mobile telephony company Wind’s entry into Tellas, which will allow it to enter the land-line sector through PPC’s former subsidiary. Furthermore, Cyprus-based investment fund Mitica Holdings divested its stake in Attica Holdings and acquired a stake in Titan cement company.