ECONOMY

Late rally in bank stocks saves the day

Stocks perked up in late trade yesterday, tracking a push higher by European stocks, but index heavyweight OTE Telecom remained mired in the doldrums after it reported an unexpected 2002 net profit drop. OTE fell 3.44 percent to 10.10 euros, a touch above its year-low of 10.00 euros. It has lost nearly 7 percent since it reported on Thursday that net profit in 2002 dropped 9.4 percent to 358.1 million euros. The Athens benchmark general index gained 0.03 percent, helped by a last-minute rally in battered bank stocks, which rose 1.1 percent. Over the week, the general index has lost 66.4 points or nearly 4 percent, closing at 1,614.06 points after an intrasession dip below 1,600 points. Blue chips slipped 0.23 percent to 791.73 points, while mid-caps gained 1.01 percent. Small-caps firmed 0.52 percent. Turnover was 89.32 million euros, with 22.5 million shares changing hands. Winners beat losers 175 to 121 with 61 shares unchanged on 357 traded. (Reuters)