ECONOMY

Strong banks, Panafon lift bourse 2.03 percent

Gains in heavyweight bank stocks and mobile operator Panafon helped lift the Athens bourse yesterday as investors chased a telecom- and tech-inspired rally on European bourses. The rally was expected given the improved climate on European bourses with some profit-taking coming in at 2,350 points, said analyst Manos Hatzidakis at Magna Trust. The Athens bourse benchmark general index ended higher 2.03 percent at 2.350.53 points. During the session it advanced as high as 2,358.96 points. Mobile operator Panafon streaked ahead to advance 4.9 percent after announcing that subscribers at end-September 2001 had increased 30.9 percent year-on-year to 2.69 million, before profit-taking set in. Banks rallied consistently throughout the session, spurred on by upgrades this week from UBS Warburg and Merrill Lynch and news that a privatization of state-owned ETBA Bank was near. Blue chips on the FTSE/ASE-20 index advanced 2.27 percent to 1,314.51 points, while mid-caps added 3.21 percent. Small-caps gained 2.17 percent. Positive results