ECONOMY

Banks lead index above 2,100 points

Stocks rose by more than 2 percent yesterday, hitting a fresh high this year with banks leading the climb on expectations of strong half-year results. The general share index gained 2.43 percent to close at 2,146.77 points, a level not seen since early September 2002. «The momentum was very strong today, with the index easily breaching the 2,100-point mark due to strong expectations of good half-year results from banks,» said analyst Vassilis Vlastarakis at Contalexis Financial Services. The upswing was in sharp contrast to the major European markets, the majority of which remained flat or posted modest gains. Banks rose 2.88 percent, with Alpha Bank up 3.98 percent and National gaining 3.79 percent. Turnover rose to 204.82 million euros, with 43.2 million shares changing hands. Advancing shares outnumbered decliners 306 to 35, with 29 unchanged. The FTSE/ASE-20 rose 2.43 percent to 1,085.09 points. (Reuters)