CSE dives as funds trim BOC positions

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Equity prices on the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) nose-dived 3% on Friday following a sharp decline witnessed in the shares of Bank of Cyprus trading in Greece.

The stamepede for the exits started on Wednesday when BOC shares trading in Greece dived from EUR 3.34 to EUR 3.22, and then followed down to touch an intra-day low of EUR 3.08 on Friday, before recouping some of their losses, to end at EUR 3.14 or CYP 1.83.

The same pattern was repeated on the CSE, as BOC shares nose-dived to end Friday trading at CYP 1.80, dragging the CSE and the rest of the local equities lower.

The CSE GENX closed 2.81% lower on the day at 86.51 points on Friday, the FTSE/CySE 20 index was down 2.98% at 399.67 points while the CSE Main/Parallel index closed 2.99% lower at 1192.37 points.

Total volume amounted to CYP 1.5 mln on 2050 trades, with declinig stocks outnumbering gaining stocks 4 to 1, according to AGFN, the CSE data provider.

The Wednesday sell-off in Greece on the Bank of Cyprus shares was due to reports that a number of foreign funds as well as a major Greek bank were trimming their positions.

In other trading, Laiki Bank (CPB) ended 1.5% lower at CYP 1.32 with the stock not managing to gain from the announcement of record 2004 profits and the declaration of 3 cent per share dividend for 2004.

Hellenic Bank (HB) fell 3.25% to 38.7 cent in tandem with the decline in the market as well as confirmation of reports of massive pile up of sour debts, which led to the replacement of its General Manager in Greece.

Most major stocks tracked BOC lower. Louis Public Co. (LUI) fell 3.26% to 20.8 cent, SFS was down 2.2% at 8.8 cent, while Christis (CDL), which reported a huge increase in 2004 losses fell 4.6% to 12.4 cent. Lanitis Development (LDL), which earlier reported lower than expected 2004 profits ended Friday with no trades, while Muskita (MAI), which a day earlier had reported a 10.6% rise in profits also closed Friday without any trades.