A slight rise amid thin trade; General advances

Shares closed slightly higher yesterday with weak volumes on the first trading day after the Christmas break, with General Bank the star of the session after news that a bidder for a stake in the bank raised its offer. The benchmark general share index edged up 0.11 percent to 2,211.93 points, following European stocks that rose for a fifth straight session yesterday, clocking up fresh year-highs despite the euro’s record rise. Consistent with recent sessions, banks were outperformers of the day, with the banking index 0.30 percent up, led by mid-cap General Bank, buoyed by news that Marfin Bank raised its offer for a controlling stake in General to 7 euros per share from a previous 6.50 euros. General jumped 4.29 percent to 6.32 euros. «Most market players are away, and all the action comes as part of portfolio rebalancing, mostly benefiting banks that investors see as posting improved results in 2004,» said analyst Christos Samothrakis of Market Securities. The bourse’s mid-cap and small-cap indices retreated marginally on the day. Turnover was slightly higher at 88.74 million euros, with 16.6 million shares changing hands. Advancers trailed decliners 127 to 150 with 71 unchanged. (Reuters)