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Hellenic Petroleum Falls After First-Quarter Loss

Hellenic Petroleum SA shares fell to the lowest level in seven weeks after Greece’s largest refiner reported a first-quarter loss as demand for heating oil plunged.

Shares dropped 3 percent to 7.66 euros at 2:48 p.m. in Athens, its lowest level since April 11, after earlier dropping as much as 4.6 percent. The stock has lost 9.9 percent so far this week.

“The rest of 2013 will continue to present significant challenges in the form of weak domestic market and volatile refining margins,” Chief Executive Officer John Costopoulos said in a statement yesterday after the market close.

Hellenic Petroleum reported a first-quarter loss of 78 million euros ($101 million), compared to a profit of 71 million euros in the same period last year. The refiner said demand for heating oil tumbled 70 percent during both the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013 after the Greek government raised taxes on the fuel.

Greece is in a sixth year of a recession that has been exacerbated by wage and pension cuts and tax increases tied to the country’s 240 billion-euro bailout packages.

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