Markets get off to a weak start

The Athens bourse took heavy losses last week, falling nearly 9 percent, as high gasoline prices and record-high inflation levels shook global equity markets. The benchmark general index ended the week off 8.7 percent, at 3,739.27 points. Brokers said investors have been discounting a drop in 2008 earnings as the global economy slows down. Selling pressure has also come from foreign investors as they reduce their exposure to equities internationally, brokers added. European markets got off to a weak start to the week yesterday, shedding up to 1 percent in mid-session trade. Meanwhile, US stocks also opened lower yesterday after oil prices surged to a record high of close to $140 a barrel and the New York Federal Reserve Bank’s Empire State index indicated that New York state manufacturing contracted more than was expected.