The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) surged forward with a strong pickup in investor interest to close the first week of June with hefty gains of 9.90 percent after three positive trading sessions. The general index ended at 1,876.64 points on Friday, while the volume of trade for the week totaled 1.17 billion euros, with an average per session of 234.27 million euros against just 110.58 million the week before. Blue chips attracted the strongest interest in terms of volume and the FTSE/ASE-20 index advanced 11.71 percent but was outperformed with gains of 11.97 percent by the small-cap FTSE/ASE-80. The FTSE/ASE-40 of mid-caps rose 9.22 percent. The FTSE/ASE-140, a composite of the above three, advanced 11.31 percent. All sectoral indices gained, with the exception of refineries which lost 2 percent as investors were unimpressed with the announced merger of the country’s two largest concerns, Hellenic Petroleum and Petrola. Insurance outperformed with gains of 31.80 percent, followed by publishing and printing with 19.94 percent and IT equipment solutions with 19.60 percent. Among the 372 individual shares traded, 325 registered gains, 32 fell and 15 remained unchanged. Corinth Pipe Works and Ethniki General Insurance made the biggest strides, rising 57.30 percent and 43.53 percent. Images and Sound and Petrola Hellas were the biggest losers, receding 13.94 percent and 13.24 percent respectively. The most marketable share by far was that of Hellenic Petroleum, with 55 million euros per session, but weekly gains of only 0.66 percent, followed by OTE Telecom with 15.92 million euros.