Oil prices, global fears send markets lower

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark index fell for a second day, declining 54.75 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,224.38, on a new rise in oil prices and fears that the global credit crunch still has some way to go. The FTSE/ATHEX 20 index of the country’s biggest companies dropped 1.5 percent to 2,239.36. Intralot declined 1 euro, or 7.7 percent, to 12 euros, the biggest decline in more than three months, after forecasts for profit and sales this year fell short of some analysts’ estimates. The world’s second-largest gaming services provider expects profit this year to advance 11 percent to 125 million euros as sales climb 38 percent to 1.15 billion euros. Supermarket chain AB Vassilopoulos rose 4.4 percent to 48.04 euros, its biggest one-day gain in four weeks, after the Greek unit of Belgium’s Delhaize Group said profit in the first quarter advanced 58 percent to 7.6 million euros. The Hygeia health care group lost 2 percent to 3.92 euros, the biggest decline in a week. The firm will pay $48 million to buy 50 percent of a Turkish hospital operator to expand in the neighboring country. Mytilineos slumped 3.4 percent, Bank of Cyprus was 3.3 percent lower and National Bank fell 3.1 percent. Turnover totaled 293 million euros. (Bloomberg, Kathimerini)