ECONOMY

Blue chips rebound but gloom remains

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) last week shed some of its earlier May gloom, with the benchmark index adding 2.72 percent to close at 4,176.51 points on Friday. Banks spearheaded the blue chip-led recovery, with bellwether National Bank surging 7.4 percent on Friday alone, on the strength of first-quarter results. Average daily turnover rose 19.33 percent to 366 million euros. Nevertheless, the optimists remain in the minority. The bulk of investors seem to be conserving strength and liquidity, anticipating a lackluster summer, as the conclusion of the concession tenders for the container terminals of the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki will complete the government’s privatization program for 2008 with no visible prospect of any exciting business news to revitalize the market. Enterprises are reviewing business plans, placing priority on maintaining market shares. The Capital Market Commission has issued a strict warning to listed firms to update investors on changes in investment plans, especially as the specter of recession is haunting the USA and Europe.