ATHEX rises 6 pct in 3 days

Positive news about the ongoing negotiations for the entry of Deutsche Telekom into Greece’s OTE and rekindled interest by foreign institutionals in Greek blue chips, especially bank shares, sent the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark up 6 percent in just three sessions last week. The bourse was shut on Orthodox Easter Monday and May 1. The general index closed at 4,303.77 points on Friday, while the blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 gained 7.8 percent for the week. Banks outperformed among sectoral indices with gains of 9.8 percent. It was perhaps the first time since the beginning of 2008 that the Greek bourse showed independence from the trends prevailing elsewhere in Europe. ATHEX remains among the top losers this year, as liquidations by foreign institutionals, who now account for more than 50 percent of its total capitalization, sent the index to a three-year low. Last week they also showed interest in some mid-caps, but small-caps remained unloved. The year 2008 so far has been marked by a lack of business news to move investors, as mergers and acquisitions have virtually disappeared in view of the low valuations and the hibernation of the hedge and private equity funds that had dominated the business scene over the last three years. ATHEX-listed firms will begin reporting first-quarter results this week. Overall performance is expected to be weaker, mainly due to the effects of the global credit crunch and the fact that the first quarter is traditionally the weakest of the four. Doppler, a firm selling elevators, is scheduled to be listed on ATHEX’s recently launched Alternative Market (ENA) for small dynamic companies on Wednesday.