ECONOMY

Selling pressure eases midweek

The specter of rising oil prices reappeared on stock markets last week, causing concern about inflationary pressures in Europe and the USA. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) came under selling pressure early in the week, but ended it with modest gains in thinner trade, with the general index ending 0.68 percent higher on Friday than a week earlier, at 4,350.03 points. The selling pressures on National Bank, which had continued almost from the start of the month, abated only on Thursday, having led the bourse’s heaviest blue chip to a 12-month low. Sources said the big sellers were large foreign institutional funds which had bought the stock for as little as -22-25 per share. The development exerted further pressure on the Greek bourse, which remains subdued with low turnover. Most shares are trading at recent year lows, the basic shareholders are seeing the value of listed businesses being eroded on a daily basis, while the international business outlook for the first half of the year does not favor the realization of deals, as banks keep discovering new skeletons in their closets from their exposure to subprime loans. ATHEX last week launched its Alternative Market, which is seen as a «seedbed» for small and mid-sized firms which could grow by raising cheap capital and then move on to the main market. The debut was made by Epsilon Net on Thursday. Hellenic Exchanges, the holding company which operates ATHEX, announced a 57 percent rise in 2007 profits to -91 million. Aluminium profile firm Alumil Mylonas said its subsidiary Alumil Gulf FZC had won a 170-million contract in Abu Dhabi.