Banks lead index higher despite late selling spree

Shares pushed higher yesterday, ending with a weekly gain of 0.9 percent with banks leading the rally, offsetting losses in telecom stocks. «The market was uptrending for the most part of the session but eased in the last half hour as investors reshuffled portfolios, which is normal at the end of the month,» said analyst Christos Kalogirou at Standard Securities. The benchmark general share index inched up 0.25 percent to 2,121.06 points, outperforming European markets which dipped in midsession on weak German and French economic data. Shares in Piraeus Bank gained 0.75 percent to 8.04 euros, a day after the bank reported a 28.6 percent jump in group nine-month group net profit to 70 million euros, beating market expectations and its own guidance. Investment bank UBS yesterday raised its price target for Piraeus to 11.1 euros from 10.5 while keeping its «buy 2» rating, citing the bank’s improving quality of earnings. Press reports suggesting three banks were short-listed as bidders for a stake in General Bank sent the stock up 2.84 percent to 6.52 euros. Turnover fell to 229.38 million euros, with 28.3 million shares changing hands. Advancers led decliners 227 to 73, with 57 unchanged against 357 traded. (Reuters)