ECONOMY

Index up 0.47 pct thanks to strong banks

Gains of more than 2 percent in Alpha Bank helped lift equities yesterday, as the broader market inched 0.47 percent higher, despite weakness in European bourses. Brokers said the sector was playing catch-up with European peers after underperforming recently, while some profit-taking in mid-caps put a lid on gains. «We had a technical rebound in banks. After their recent retreat, they are at fair prices and have left behind them bad earnings for 2002,» said Costas Zareifopoulos, analyst at Pendethekas Securities. The Athens benchmark general index, which drifted for most of the session, ended up 0.47 percent at 1,825.89 points. Blue chips added 0.92 percent to 898.48 points. Mid-caps dropped 0.52 percent and small-caps fell 1.35 percent. Turnover was 96.40 million euros on 21.6 million shares traded. Losers beat winners 222 to 85, with 47 shares unchanged on 354 traded.(Reuters)