ECONOMY

Banks offset OTE weakness

The conclusion of the agreement for Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) acquisition of a major share and the management of OTE telecom took center stage on the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) last week, giving a strong boost to the week’s turnover, along with rekindled interest in banking blue chips. The revived interest of mainly foreign institutional investors in banks, particularly in National, Alpha and Piraeus, after several weeks of weak performance also helped to offset losses for the ATHEX benchmark index from the pressure on OTE after the deal. The index closed at 4,229.89 points on Friday, up 0.57 percent for the week. Turnover totaled -4.43 billion, with -2.59 billion accounted for by the 19.9 percent block of OTE shares transferred to DT by Marfin Investment Group. The average per session rose to -886.5 million, against 450.5 million in the previous week. Important developments included the submission of bids for the operation of the container terminals in the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki by Cosco Pacific, Hutchison Port Holdings and Dubai Ports. The market this week is expected to move in line with trends abroad, where the decline in oil prices of the last few days has given bourses a breather by boosting the prospects of an easing in inflationary pressures. Nevertheless, the unfavorable climate due to the repercussions of the subprime loan crisis in the USA, talk of recession and strong volatility continue to have a negative impact on investor sentiment, impacting blue chips. ATHEX-listed firms will continue reporting first-quarter results until May 31. They are not expected to offer many pleasant surprises, as profitability is projected to have declined on the whole.