Banks help index climb again over 2,200 points

Shares ended higher yesterday, helped by advancing banking stocks led by Alpha Bank, which bounced after recent falls. The general share index rose 1.05 percent to 2,210.68 points. It was its highest closing level since late August, even though it reached higher intraday levels last week. Alpha Bank added 4.16 percent to 22.02 euros, near a year-high of 22.30 euros set late last month, catching up with other banking stocks. «Alpha Bank was down four days in a row. It’s attractively valued at this level and is attracting buying interest,» said analyst Paris Mantzavras at HSBC Pantelakis. Buying interest also extended to other banks, with EFG Eurobank advancing 2.65 percent to 14.74 euros, National Bank rising 1.14 percent to 19.54 euros and Commercial Bank ending 2.14 percent firmer at 19.10 euros. Heavyweight OTE nosed up 0.78 percent to 10.36 euros. Its chief executive told Reuters yesterday that the group planned to speed up its voluntary retirement plan and shed 4,000 jobs over the next two years in its drive to cut costs. Turnover rose to 298.76 million euros, with 77.95 million shares changing hands. Advancers led decliners 256 to 46, with 57 unchanged. (Reuters)