ECONOMY

Banks lead broad market advance

Shares rallied more than 4 percent yesterday, with banks leading the advance on expectations of improved profits in the first half. Upbeat European markets also boosted buying interest. National Bank yesterday dismissed a press report that its pretax profit will be 35 percent higher in the first half, but its shares climbed 6.90 percent to 15.8 euros, with buying interest spreading across the sector. Buying interest spread to construction shares as well, lifting the sector 4.98 percent, with Michaniki surging 15.9 percent to 2.26 euros. The upswing was broad-based, with advancers leading decliners 332 to 23. Turnover also rose to 190 million euros with 42.5 million shares changing hands. The benchmark index ended 4.19 percent higher at 1,945.97 points. Shares of gaming group OPAP underperformed, gaining 2.47 percent to 9.12 euros. The company, 75.6 percent owned by the State, said first-half sales grew 25.6 percent to 1.17 billion euros. (Reuters)