Unexpected gains for ATHEX benchmark, mid-caps

The year ended in the Greek stock market with annual losses of 29 percent for the benchmark, but Wednesday provided an unexpected rise to prices that left some observers wondering what it is they may have missed and the traders have already in mind.

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index closed at 826.18 points, adding 1.23 percent to Tuesday’s 816.15 points. The large-cap FTSE/ATHEX 25 index expanded 0.93 percent to end at 264.86 points, but mid-caps soared by an impressive 5.20 percent.

There is a school of thought that explains Wednesday’s gains – especially for the mid-caps and banks – through the latest opinion polls showing that the gap between opposition SYRIZA and main coalition partner New Democracy is narrowing, while the marriage between SYRIZA and Democratic Left appears less certain, but there are others who attribute that small buying trend to an effort to keep the bourse on a certain level to allow for more selling closer to the elections of January 25.

The banks’ index grew 1.30 percent, outperforming the FTSE-25, as Alpha climbed 2.86 percent and National rose 2.80 percent. The day’s best performer was Marfin Investment Group that added 7.95 percent, while Hellenic Petroleum gave up 3.31 percent.

Growing stocks outnumbered decliners by two-to-one (78 against 39), while 13 remained unchanged.

Turnover was the lowest of the last 16 months, amounting to just 28.2 million euros, down from Tuesday’s 51.5 million.