ECONOMY

Index up despite weak performance by banks

Shares ended with small gains yesterday with investors encouraged by advancing major European bourses despite selling pressure in banks that recently concluded share offerings, traders said. The benchmark general share index added 0.19 percent to 2,112.57 points, with the blue-chip index gaining 0.22 percent. «European markets helped keep the index from slipping, what with all the selling pressure on National and Piraeus after their placements,» said Vassilis Antoniadis of Marfin Mutual Funds Management. Index bellwether National Bank was off 1 percent to 18.00 euros, with fund managers saying the drop was to be expected after the bank placed 11 percent of its share capital at a discount, at 17.40 euros a share. Piraeus Bank also fell 1.42 percent to 8.48 euros after its own share placement concluded last Friday with the shares offered for 8.0 euros each. «Some institutional investors could benefit from the discount by currently selling shares they already owned and replacing them with shares acquired from the placement,» said analyst Elias Lazaris at Artion Securities. Turnover rose to 177.04 million euros, with 29.6 million shares changing hands. Advancers trailed decliners by 94 to 203, with 62 unchanged against 359 traded. (Reuters)