ECONOMY

Market winds down ahead of year-end

The moderate downgrading of Greece’s credit rating by Moody’s last week (from A1 to A2) has put a temporary end to the liquidation of bank stocks by foreign investors. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed the week last Wednesday at 2,207.94 points, registering a 1.82 percent rise from the previous week’s close at 2,168.43 points. Average turnover predictably declined quite sharply in this three-day week due to the festive season. Most domestic investment funds have already closed their positions for 2009 and are preparing for the new year. Private investors remain mere observers, in anticipation of a change in the stock market trend before they choose to make a move. At this stage they appear to be preoccupied with the question of which dividend policy listed companies will opt for, as the double taxation of dividends already applies. Most listed firms will continue their attempts to secure better borrowing terms from banks in January, mainly through the issuance of new revised loans, while having spending cuts as their main priority.