Banks buoy stocks to third day of gains

The benchmark of the Athens bourse chalked up its third day of gains on Wednesday, taking its total growth registered since Monday morning to 4.71 percent, as international reports continue to praise local banks, sending their stocks higher. Curiously, the foreign portfolios now buying into Greek lenders are the very same that last week inflicted losses on bank stocks and the benchmark.

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed at 1,247.92 points, adding 1.55 percent to Tuesday’s 1,228.85 points. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 25 expanded 1.83 percent to close at 403.78 points, while small-caps fell 0.09 percent.

As privatizations remain stagnant and corporate moves few and far between – OTE’s offer for Forthnet’s Nova being the exception – the focus of international investors is predictably returning to the banking sector, which in turn is swaying the local bourse accordingly.

The banks index added 2.81 percent on Wednesday, with Piraeus growing 4.24 percent and Eurobank adding 2.69 percent. OTE climbed 3.15 percent. Jumbo was the only large-cap to take losses (down 1.10 percent).

In total 69 stocks registered gains, 40 sustained losses and 29 remained unchanged.

Turnover amounted to 125.3 million euros, down from Tuesday’s 138.3 million.