ECONOMY

Heavy losses for ATHEX

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) has lost about -5 billion of its total capitalization value since January 3, as a result of intensifying liquidations by foreign institutionals and in the midst of negative sentiment due to the global credit crunch. The picture on the Greek bourse in the second week of the year was dismal, with the general index dropping 4.97 percent and closing at 4,858.35 points. Losses accelerated, particularly after Deutsche Bank’s negative report on Eurobank on Thursday, which affected other banks as well. Raw materials was the heaviest loser among sectoral indices, dropping 12.93 percent. Commerce followed, ending 10.09 percent lower. This week ahead is considered crucial, as it will show whether ATHEX is strong enough to hold around the 4,900-point level in the absence of domestic institutional and private investors. The international investment community is now anxiously awaiting Citigroup’s announcement of 2007 results tomorrow, as this will depict the extent of the losses that the world’s largest bank has sustained as a result of the subprime loan crisis. The optimistic scenario for 2008, which is considered the less likely, sees gains of about 10 percent for the stock market. The pessimistic scenario predicts a year of strong upheavals, with much depending on the profitability of global enterprises, especially on the performance of the S&P 500, the world’s most representative index. Costas Segredakis, head of analysts at Praxis International, believes 2008 will be a year of difficult decisions for central bankers in Europe and the USA, as a lax interest rate policy to avert a recession may lead to a rekindling of inflation.