Banks lead market sell-off for second day

Bank shares led the Greek market down sharply for a second day, as growing fears of a US recession and weak European bourses prompted selling by funds. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark index dropped 2.7 percent, to 4,523.76 points as 51 of its constituent shares retreated, seven gained and two were unchanged. The measure slumped 12 percent in the last six days, the longest losing streak since August 2005. The FTSE/ATHEX 20 index of the country’s largest companies lost 3 percent to 2,398.09. National Bank sank 3 percent, and Alpha Bank, the third-biggest lender, tumbled 5.6 percent, even after saying it expected per-share earnings to increase at a faster annual pace than originally forecast. Piraeus Bank, which said earlier this week it will beat this year’s profit target, was down 4.9 percent. Metals groups Viohalco and Mytilineos slumped more than 4.70 percent. «There is no reason specific to the Greek market as to why banks are falling today. The Greek market is tracking European bourses which are down after Citigroup’s write-down, which raised concerns about the direction of the US economy,» said an analyst who declined to be identified. «The Greek market is performing more like an emerging market, underperforming European peers.» (Reuters, Bloomberg)