ECONOMY

Sluggish rise amid a negative climate

In a climate of investor indifference and with foreign portfolios finishing off their sale of bank stocks, the local market edged higher over the past week, seemingly immune to the unrest on the streets of Athens and other large cities. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed on Friday at 1,810.26 points, which was 1.22 percent higher than the previous week’s close, though turnover remained at very low levels. For some weeks now, the Greek bourse has had no specific direction and has been hovering around the 1,800-point mark. As there is no fresh capital and the news is full of negative developments concerning companies with financial problems and layoffs, it is impossible for the Athens market to avoid the downward cycle begun in November 2007. In this storm of stock-selling, the market is unable to respond effectively. Listed firms are trying to keep prices up by buying their own shares, hoping to avert greater disintegration of their capitalization. From September 1 through Friday, listed firms have spent over 1 billion euros buying their own shares.