ECONOMY

OTE, Iaso, Mytilineos take center stage

The benchmark Athens Exchange (ATHEX) index dropped 1.7 percent, to 3,760.79, the lowest since July 2006. The FTSE/ASE 20 Index of the country’s biggest companies slid 2.2 percent to 1,937.92. OTE telecoms fell 1.7 percent, to -17.90, the lowest since August 2006. Citigroup Inc is selling -50 million shares in the biggest Greek phone company. Separately, OTE reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts’ estimates. Iaso rose 4.9 percent, to -8.98, advancing for a third day. The Greek hospital operator said yesterday that 2007 profit increased 53 percent to -20.4 million on higher revenue. Mytilineos Holdings declined 5.7 percent, to -7.34, the lowest since July 2006. The metals and energy group may show a drop in fourth-quarter profit when it reports earnings on March 26, analysts at Marfin Analysis said in a note to investors. Earnings may be hurt «by a weak US dollar, affecting the mining business,» and a delay in projects by its Metka unit, according to the note. Metka declined 3.9 percent, to -11.70, the lowest close in a year. There will be no trading on the Athens or Cyprus exchanges until March 26, due to the closure of Western European markets for the Catholic Easter holiday, and Greece’s Independence Day on March 25. (Bloomberg)