ECONOMY

One in three ends 07 lower

The shares of about one in three of the listed firms on the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) will close 2007 with losses, after today’s last trading session, which will be two hours shorter. The liquidity crunch sparked off by the US subprime loan crisis has cast a shadow on any gains early on in the year. Many shares came under strong pressure after September, reaching a climax in November which proved the worst month of the year. Vivere topped the list of losers, which shed 68.16 percent between January 1 and December 12, followed by construction firm Technical Olympic, down 59.6 percent, as it was affected by the collapse of its US-listed subsidiary (Tousa), which specializes in housing developments. With debts of 800 million euros, it has since been delisted. Alternative telecoms operator Lan-net was the third-biggest loser, with its share price dropping 58.62 percent. ATHEX trade was subdued last week, largely due to the holiday season, which was reflected in a sharp drop in turnover: -180.4 million per session against -480.1 million the week before. Mainly foreign institutional investors showed interest in selected blue chips, keeping the index above 5,100 points. The ATHEX general closed with gains of 0.83 percent for the week on Friday, at 5.152.16 points. The majority of traders predict that ATHEX stock prices will be even more vulnerable to international upheavals in 2008, and are likely to be influenced mostly by developments elsewhere in Europe. Giorgos Papoutsis, president of the Association of Institutional Investors, sees average gains of about 15 percent and dividends of about 4 percent, provided that the existing uncertainty in international markets abates.