Weak banks contribute to further decline

Weak blue chips led equities lower yesterday with National Bank falling more than 2.5 percent, hit by profit concerns in the sector. Firmer European markets failed to spark buying interest. Commercial Bank extended recent losses, falling 3.5 percent to 16.52 euros, below the price range set for the bank’s share buyback program. «There are lingering concerns in the sector about unrealized capital losses in their equity portfolios, weaker market-related gains and a slowdown in total loan growth,» said Manos Giakoumis, analyst at P&K Securities. The Athens benchmark general index fell for the third straight session, ending off 0.98 percent at 1,815.03 points. It hit an intrasession high of 1,866.30 points. Blue chips on the FTSE/ASE-20 index fell 1.37 percent to 911.99 points. Mid-caps retreated 0.70 percent and small-caps ended off 0.40 percent. Turnover was 72.53 million euros on 21.0 million shares traded. Losers beat winners 196 to 109, while 50 shares were unchanged on 355 traded. (Reuters)