Investors keep eye on lenders

Greek stocks may rebound higher today after falling for four straight sessions with talk of possible bank merger activity lingering. Greece’s deepening economic recession, falling credit growth and rising number of bad loans have fuelled speculation that banks need to join forces in order to get through the tough times. EFG Eurobank CEO Nikos Nanopoulos was the latest industry official to play down talk of takeover activity taking place, when he said on Friday that any such moves are likely to take place in the long term, rather than now. Analysts believe that lenders could be forced into making a decision on whether to go it alone or not, depending on the results of stress tests to be completed on Greek banks due in September. On Friday, the Athens bourse’s benchmark general index shed 0.57 percent to 1,460.46 points, bringing losses for the week to just over five percent. Bank shares lost 8.2 percent in the week after Goldman Sachs cut its price target on several Greek lenders. Despite the losses, brokers said news last week that the securities regulator has extended a short-selling ban on shares listed on the Athens bourse until August 31 helped ease selling pressure.