OTE and HELEX lead higher as banks slip

Stocks ended higher yesterday, with heavyweight OTE Telecom leading the rally and bourse operator Hellenic Exchanges surging on expectations of a sharp jump in first-half earnings. OTE rose 2.51 percent to 11.42 euros, taking the blue chip index up 0.53 percent. The benchmark general share index gained 0.72 percent to 2,190.90 points. «Institutional investors appeared to be getting out of banking shares and into telecoms stocks,» said Yiannis Arapoglou, analyst at Kyklos Securities. Hellenic Exchanges soared 12.07 percent to 6.50 euros, driven by expectations that a recovering stock market and rising trading volumes will boost profits. A source at the company told Reuters it expected a marked improvement in first-half and full-year earnings. The banking index dipped 0.12 percent to 3,714.49 points, with bellwether National Bank losing 0.55 percent to 18.08 euros. Turnover fell to 204.23 million euros. Advancing shares led decliners 238 to 91, with 44 unchanged. (Reuters)