Fears of fresh downgrades by international credit rating agencies sent the local bourse into a downward spiral yesterday, with most stocks suffering considerable losses. Banks were once again in the eye of the storm. The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed at 1,449.79 points yesterday, falling 3.22 percent from Friday’s close at 1,497.01 points. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index declined by 3.92 percent to end at 658.88 points. Yesterday’s session put an end to hopes for a year-end rally, which looked possible on Friday. It appears that it would be very difficult for many stocks to recover the ground lost. All blue chips headed south, led by ATEbank (down 9.64 percent), Eurobank EFG (7.02 percent), Hellenic Postbank (6.16 percent), Alpha Bank (5.86 percent) and Bank of Cyprus (5.80 percent). National Bank fell below the 6.50-euro level, closing at 6.48 euros with a 4.71 percent daily drop. In total, 32 stocks moved up, 135 went down and 37 remained unchanged. Coastal shipping company ANEK led the gainers with growth of 16.67 percent, while Imperio posted the biggest loss with a 12.50 percent decline. Turnover came to 73.7 million euros.