Banks carry index to new year-high

Strong interest in heavyweight bank stocks yesterday pushed the general index of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) up 42.83 points, or 1.92 percent, to 2.276.47 points, a new year-high. National Bank surged 5.20 percent to 20.22 euros on the back of rumors that the government is speeding up plans to sell off part of its holding. All sectoral indices registered gains. Banks advanced 3.79 percent to 4,016.65 points. The retail commerce index outperformed, leaping 5.80 percent, followed by insurance which gained 5.05 percent. The blue-chip FTSE/ASE-20 index advanced 2.25 percent to 1,145.15 points. Mid-caps rose 2.23 percent to 2,708.05 points and small-caps gained 1.32 percent to 728.03 points. Turnover rose to 222.4 million euros. The most marketable securities were the Public Power Corporation with 13.1 million euros and National Bank with 11.0 million euros. Winners outnumbered decliners 273 to 51, with 46 unchanged on 370 traded.