Stocks slump, CCHBC plunges on downgrade

Greek equities fell for a fifth day, the longest losing streak since November, mainly on a wave of sales by foreign institutionals after Citigroup announced all-time record losses for 2007. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark index slumped 4.1 percent, to 4,647.11 points as 53 of its 60 constituent stocks decreased, four rose and three ended unchanged. The FTSE/ATHEX 20 index of the country’s largest companies lost 4.1 percent to 2,472.28. ATHEX was the biggest decliner of 18 Western European exchanges trading yesterday. Only 34 shares rose in price. Coca-Cola HBC crashed 8.2 percent lower to -27.30. The stock was downgraded to «neutral» from «buy» by Merrill Lynch analyst David Tovar, who cited a 20 percent premium to its European beverage peers. Metals group Mytilineos plunged 6.7 percent and four banks, Alpha, Piraeus, National and Postal Savings all slumped more than 5 percent. Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) gained 3.3 percent. Plans to hand over management of some container terminal operations at Greece’s biggest port will «signify great progress toward modernizing» services, Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said in an e-mailed statement. Turnover totaled -637.8 million. (Kathimerini, Bloomberg)