Construction shines as shares end lower

Equities drifted lower in lackluster trade yesterday with construction stocks outperforming, boosted by strong first-quarter results from the sector’s biggest company, Hellenic Technodomiki. Brokers said an upbeat outlook for the sector ahead of a heavy workload related to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens helped fuel buying interest in the sector. Hellenic Technodomiki ended 3.91 percent higher at 6.38 euros with the bourse’s construction index adding 2.54 percent. On Tuesday, it reported a first-quarter group pretax profit growth of 52.6 percent to 25.18 million euros. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index lost 0.18 percent to 2,298.79 points after getting off to a positive start. The bourse’s FTSE/ASE-20 blue chip index fell 0.12 percent to 1,220.40 points with banks edging 0.04 percent higher. Mid-caps rose 0.51 percent and small-caps added 0.27 percent. Turnover was 135.73 million euros on volume of 18.2 million shares. Losers beat winners 154 to 150 while 55 shares were unchanged on 359 traded. (Reuters) Hellas Jet