Lows draw local retail investors

Recent slides in global equity markets have prompted the return to the Athens bourse of a large number of local retail investors, the biggest since 2003, as they go in search of buying opportunities, according to market sources. The retail players, with a portfolio size normally ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 euros, are believed to have been buying shares that helped lift Greek stocks off five-year lows last month. They are mature investors that normally buy stocks with a view to keeping them for the next six to 12 months, said a market source. Their interest has been mainly in banks and industrial blue chips, he added. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index dipped to around 1,730 points in late October but has since recaptured the 2,100 point mark, boosted by gains in bank shares. Shares in National Bank, the country’s largest lender, drew strong interest from local investors after dipping to as low as 11.88 euros. On Friday, the shares ended the session at 18.30 euros. Foreign investors have been gradually reducing their positions in Greek stocks as the global credit and financial crisis has reduced their risk appetite. Data from Hellenic Exchanges Group, the operator of the Athens bourse, showed that foreign portfolios held 51.1 percent of Greek stocks at the end of September, down from 51.4 percent in the previous month. Locally based investors, on the other hand, upped their equity positions to 47.7 percent of total market equity from 47.5 percent previously. Hellenic Exchanges is scheduled today to make figures on October investor positions public.