ATHEX sinks in subdued mood

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark index closed at 4,316.33 points on Friday, a loss of 2.71 percent for the week. The decline affected all capitalizations but was spearheaded by heavyweight utilities and banks, whose sectoral indices dropped 7.11 percent and 3.27 percent respectively. The personal and household goods index was 5.42 percent lower. ATHEX appeared bogged down in thin trade as in the previous week, hit by an apparent lack of direction on the market, lack of buyers and heavy selling by foreign institutionals. Turnover totaled -1.87 billion, a daily average of -374.24 million. Traders said it will be hard for ATHEX to extricate itself from the current subdued sentiment emanating from the credit crisis in developed markets which induces consumers to pay off their debts rather than to continue spending. The disappointing picture on the American ISM business index last week confirmed anxieties that the crisis is deepening and will most likely reach European consumers as well. Eyes will be focused on the 2007 results of blue chip companies this week. Listed companies are estimated to report a combined record of -12 billion. Eurobank is reporting today, Piraeus Bank and Hellenic Petroleum on Wednesday, and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co and Marfin Popular Bank on Thursday. Last Thursday, ATHEX submitted a non-binding bid for a 65 percent stake in Slovenia’s Ljubljana bourse, whose total current capitalization is estimated at -25 billion. Other bidders include the Warsaw bourse, Euronext and OMX, which operates the Vienna and Milan markets. ATHEX, whose capitalization now stands at around -175 billion, has also bid for the Sofia exchange.