ECONOMY

Mixed week sees small gain

The second week of February offered investors some hope following the unexpected rise of retail sales in the US and of the German business index ZEW. The Greek bourse enjoyed three straight positive sessions, but Friday’s losses meant the weekly gains of the general index were trimmed to just 0.10 percent, rising to 4,320.67 points from 4,316.33 points the previous Friday. Investors remain cautious, as even the most optimistic believe that we will not know before the end of the first half of the year the extent of the damage caused by the subprime mortgage crisis in the US. Last week, the Athens market saw the first reports on fiscal 2007, including those of EFG Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Coca-Cola HBC and Hellenic Petroleum. Alpha Bank follows on February 26, while the National Bank report is scheduled for March 4. Market observers say that the overall picture for the 309 listed companies will be satisfactory for 2007. The maturing of investments abroad which allows Greek companies to reap profits from their subsidiaries in international markets, the reduction of tax and the increase in the sales volume of their products are the main factors for the rise in profits throughout the last financial year. Hundreds of thousands of shareholders will be happy to see the dividend policy of companies, who are expected to distribute nearly 50 percent of their profits (over -11 billion), which will give the market a fresh cash injection and justify holding on to the shares in one’s portfolio.