Firm banks helped equities to a slightly higher close yesterday as profit-taking halted OTE Telecom’s recent rally. Brokers said investors selectively picked up stocks, as merger speculation continued to stoke buying interest after recent news of the Alpha-National Bank deal. General merger talk has given the market a boost and this is reflected by the higher turnover, said Annie Triantafyllou, head analyst at National Securities. The Athens benchmark general index ended up 0.06 percent at 2,634.90 points. The general index received a small boost on news that the ECB cut its refinancing rate by 50 basis points to 3.25 percent. Blue chips on the FTSE/ASE-20 index firmed 0.17 percent to 1,465.33 points and banks added 0.53 percent. National Bank edged 0.07 percent higher to 28.38 euros, a day after announcing group pretax profit after minorities fell 7.6 percent to 194.3 billion drachmas ($514.6 million) in the first nine months, at the bottom end of market expectations. Mid-caps on the bourse’s FTSE/ASE-40 index added 0.79 percent while small-caps rose 0.54 percent. Turnover was 192.91 million euros on volume of 39.2 million shares. (Reuters) Irrespective of the original intentions, the project, as it stands, has had precisely the opposite effects. There is now an even greater risk of flooding as the speed and force of the water is far greater through the narrower cemented course than it is through the natural watercourse where the soil absorbs water and reduces its volume.