Athens Exchange: Bank stocks meltdown – Benchmark slumping to levels unseen in more than 26 years.

The combination of the pressure on global stocks and oil prices with the continued uncertainty over the negotiations between Athens and its creditors led to a , with the benchmark slumping to levels unseen in more than 26 years.

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed at 464.23 points, the lowest since December 29, 1989, shedding 7.87 percent from Friday’s 503.88 points. The large-cap FTSE 25 index contracted 10.21 percent to end at 121.52 points, a new record low.

At 11.9 billion euros in the first five weeks of the year, the ATHEX market capitalization losses rank as the world’s highest in terms of proportion.

It appears that sale orders by foreign investors who had expected the local credit sector to expand after its recapitalization are growing: The international pressure on bank chip prices has become more evident in Greece where the exit door is narrower and the apparent need for departure greater, given also the uncertainty hanging over the first bailout review.

The various delays to privatization projects, public opposition to social security reform, the farmers’ blockades and ultimately the talk about another snap general election have added to the pressure on the market. That was also reflected in the rise recorded in Greek bond yields, with the benchmark 10-year paper climbing to 10.389 percent, the highest in six months.

Three out of four systemic banks were hovering just above the limit-down, as Eurobank dropped 29.20 percent, National Bank gave up 29.06 percent, Piraeus conceded 27.21 percent and Alpha contracted 17.65 percent.

Among other blue chips, Public Power Corporation lost 12.50 percent, Piraeus Port Authority decreased 9.66 percent and Viohalco declined 9.60 percent.

In total seven stocks bucked the trend to post gains, 100 recorded losses and 13 remained unchanged.

Turnover amounted to 97.4 million euros, up from last Friday’s 66.6 million.

In Nicosia the general index of the Cyprus Stock Exchange fell 0.52 percent to 66.39 points.