Greek stocks plunge, banks hammered, after five-week crisis shut down

Mon Aug 3, 2015 12:16pm EDT
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By George Georgiopoulos and Angeliki Koutantou

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's stock market closed with heavy losses on Monday after a five-week shutdown brought on by fears that the country was about to be dumped from the euro zone.

Bank shares plummeted 30 percent before loss limits kicked in to stop investors selling any more. The main Athens stock index .ATG ended down 16.2 percent, recovering slightly after plunging nearly 23 percent at the open.

It was the worst daily performance since at least 1985 when modern records began, including a 15 percent fall when Wall Street crashed in 1987.

By contrast, the broad European FTSEurofirst 300 index was in positive territory for the day.FTEU3 [.EU]

"The market tanked, as expected," said Takis Zamanis, chief trader at Athens-based Beta Securities.

Banking shares, which make up about 20 percent of the Greece index, were particularly hard hit. The overall banking index was down to its 30 percent daily limit.

All five shares comprising the index - National Bank of Greece (NBGr.AT: Quote), Alpha Bank ACBr.AT, Piraeus Bank (BOPr.AT: Quote), Attica Bank (BOAr.AT: Quote) and Eurobank (EURBr.AT: Quote) - were locked down for much of the session at the limit with no buyers.

Greece's banks have seen deposits severely depleted as Greeks pulled out their euros for fear they would be forcibly converted into a new drachma outside the euro zone. The banks have been propped up by emergency money from the European Central Bank.   Continued...

A European Union flag flutters outside the Athens stock exchange, Greece, July 27, 2015. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun