ECONOMY

Banks are still under pressure

The local market was unable to withstand pressures from abroad and followed the pattern of most eurozone bourses last week, posting moderate losses. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed the week at 4,004.81 points, a decline of 2.46 percent from the previous week’s 4,105.72-point close. The climate in the market remains jittery and susceptible to pressures. The focus of international portfolios remains on Greek banks, whose shares are their first option for raising some cash. Significantly, there were no major business deals during the whole of the year’s first quarter and no listed companies have drawn funds in cash due to the negative international conjuncture. March data on shareholders in the local bourse showed that foreign investors account for only 50.5 percent of its capitalization, from 50.8 percent in February. In the case of stocks in the blue chip index (FTSE-20) foreigners owned 59.39 percent, down from 59.80 percent in February. In the mid-cap index (FTSE-40), though their share posted a marginal rise, from 46.91 percent to 46.94 percent. Small-caps attracted greater interest from foreigners, who in March owned 45.3 percent against 43.71 percent in February. The market was disappointed to learn the news that there have been only two binding offers for the project involving the conversion of Hellenic Sugar Industry’s refineries into bioethanol plants. The offers were from local company Motor Oil and from the consortium of Cal West Ethanol & Renew Energy EU LLC. There had originally been as many as nine groups on the short list.