ECONOMY

2004 enters with luster

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index maintained its upward momentum last week, gaining 89.7 points, or 3.88 percent, to close at 2,403.34 points. Weekly turnover, including block trades, surged to 1,067.58 million euros, an average of 266.90 million per session (the bourse was closed on Tuesday, a public holiday), from 508.47 million euros the previous week (also in four sessions). The general index rose for eight straight sessions, which had not happened since the autumn of 1999. Analysts said interest was buoyed by the finalization of March 7 as the date for general elections, and expressed the view that the ASE could rise further in the short term, given that share prices are still relatively low. All Financial Times indices ended with gains, particularly the blue chip FTSE/ASE-20, which jumped 4.19 percent. The FTSE/ASE-40 of mid-caps advanced 2.67 percent and the small-cap FTSE/ASE-80 rose 1.43 percent. As a result, the FTSE/ASE-140, a composite of the above three, gained 3.72 percent. Most sectoral indices ended with gains, led by refineries and telecoms, which surged 7.64 and 6.86 percent, respectively. Heavyweight banks advanced 3.73 percent. Construction, insurance, non-metallic minerals, printing and publishing and real estate ended lower. Of the 368 shares traded, 182 gained, 169 declined and 17 stayed the same. Vernikos Holdings was the star winner of the week, advancing 31.43 percent, while Kekrops led losers by ending 12.65 percent lower. The week’s most marketable securities were Hyatt Regency, OTE Telecom and National Bank.