Athens bourse falls nearly 6 percent

The bourse in Athens slumped nearly 6 percent yesterday as banks continued their retreat, swept up by panic selling on international markets. The benchmark general index fell 5.85 percent to 2,640.78 points, the lowest level since November 2004. Banks lost 6.90 percent, with lenders National and Piraeus giving up 6.90 percent and 7.82 percent respectively. Comments by Eurobank CEO Nikolaos Nanopoulos that Greece’s banking system is adequately protected against the crisis did little to calm investors. Other blue chips that came under heavy selling pressure included OTE telecom (down 5.49 percent) and the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (less 7.32 percent). Global stock markets reeled yesterday, shaken by massive sell-offs by panicked investors who fear a much-vaunted US finance sector bailout will fail to end the crippling credit crisis. In late trade, France’s CAC index was down more than 9 percent while Germany’s DAX was also some 9 percent in the red. Turnover on the Athens bourse reached 247.1 million euros versus 227 million euros in the previous session.