Earnings figures and Irish woes on investors’ minds

With some of the country’s largest lenders getting ready to report third-quarter figures, earnings data may set the tone on the Athens bourse this week, while investors will be keeping an eye on markets abroad after Ireland said it will apply for a multibillion-euro bailout of its economy. On Friday, the Athens bourse’s benchmark general index ended at 1,492.67 points, shedding 0.3 percent for the week. Banks, which slipped 3.8 percent last week, will be in the spotlight, with Alpha Bank reporting third-quarter figures tomorrow ahead of ATEbank on Wednesday. EFG Eurobank’s equity research department expects Greek lenders to show an average drop in third-quarter profits of 70 percent due to trading losses and higher provisions, it said on Friday. Further blue chip earnings data will come from OPAP (today), Titan (tomorrow) and Hellenic Petroleum and Motor Oil (Wednesday). Abroad, Ireland’s Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the country will request help from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, AP reported. «I will be recommending to the government that we should apply for this program,» Lenihan said. The Irish cabinet was expected to sign off on the request late yesterday.