Foreign players cut stakes in Greek stocks

Positions held by foreign investors in Greek stocks fell to below 50 percent of the total market capitalization in October, the lowest level in 20 months, according to data made public yesterday. Hellenic Exchanges, the group that operates the Athens bourse, said foreign portfolios held 49.2 percent of total shares versus 51.1 percent in the previous month. The figure stood at 52.7 percent in October last year. Foreign investors have reduced their holdings in Greek equities, opting for safer investment choices, such as government bonds, due to the global financial crisis that has rocked markets worldwide. Foreign investors were net sellers on the Athens bourse in October, pulling 1.17 billion euros from the market. The sell-off prompted more active trading by local retail investors, who went bargain-hunting after the market dipped to five-year lows during the month. Greek investors poured 986.4 million euros into stocks in October, where 109,229 investor accounts were activated by players, the highest number since June 2007. The capitalization of the Athens bourse fell 26.8 percent in October to 78.1 billion euros from 106.7 billion at the end of September.