National Bank pulls index out of doldrums

Shares erased early losses and settled with small gains yesterday amid thin volume, helped by bellwether National Bank which rose on reports it might securitize its real estate portfolio. «Blue chips provided support, making up for early losses in small- and mid-cap stocks,» said analyst Constantina Panayiotaki at Axon Securities. «As we near the end of the year, we will see more portfolio reshuffling.» The benchmark general share index ended 0.17 percent firmer at 2,182.74 points, with blue chips up 0.30 percent, while mid- and small-caps were marginally softer. National Bank outperformed, adding 1.26 percent to 19.22 euros as investors reacted to press reports the bank was thinking of securitizing its real estate portfolio to reinforce its equity. Analysts said the majority of listed banks were likely to securitize their properties next year to improve their capital adequacy ratios as well as for funding purposes. Piraeus Bank rose 1.38 percent to 8.84 euros after it announced the merger procedure with Hellenic Industrial Development Bank (ETBA) was completed yesterday. Turnover eased to 120.27 million euros, with 26.48 million shares changing hands. Losers led winners 153 to 130, with 71 ending unchanged. (Reuters)