ECONOMY

2003 ends on a positive note; index over 2,250

Shares ended 2003 on Wednesday with their first annual gain in four years amid thin holiday trade. The benchmark general index nudged up 0.47 percent to 2,263.58 points, racking up a 29.5 percent annual gain, its first since 1999. Trading activity was light, with volume at just 117.11 million euros as investors took off for New Year’s Day. The Athens Stock Exchange was closed yesterday and will reopen today. Banking stocks were mixed, with National Bank retreating 0.38 percent to 20.74 euros and Alpha Bank off 0.25 percent at 23.98 euros after their recent outperformance. Bucking the trend, Piraeus Bank set a fresh year-high, rising 1.89 percent to 9.68 euros while EFG Eurobank added 1.31 percent at 15.44 euros. OTE Telecom trimmed early losses, trading 0.38 percent up at 10.48 euros, its highest close since mid-December. Telecom equipment maker Intracom was the top blue chip gainer, rising 3.45 percent to 5.40 euros. «Intracom is catching up with other stocks as it has lagged behind recently. It’s also benefiting from portfolio reshuffling,» said one trader. A total of 29.5 million shares were traded, with advancers leading decliners 227 to 85 and 44 unchanged. (Reuters)