ECONOMY

Banks lead market up, but prices getting high

Equities posted gains of more than 1 percent yesterday, lifted by a strong wave of buying interest in bank stocks, as investors continued repositioning for the new year. «Inflow of new funds in bank stocks, on hopes of improved earnings this year, lifted the sector today. Upbeat sentiment in foreign markets also boosted the general mood,» said analyst Andreas Alexiou at Beta Securities. The general share index ended 1.48 percent higher at 2,482.35 points, with blue chips outperforming with gains of 2.08 percent. Mid-caps rose 1.10 percent and small-caps closed 0.44 percent higher. Banks ended 2.73 percent higher but analysts warned that stretched valuations could prompt investors to book short-term gains. National Bank led the market rally, trading 2.73 percent higher at 23.34 euros, its highest close since March 2002. Alpha Bank rose 3.85 percent, EFG Eurobank gained 1.82 percent and Piraeus Bank added 1.31 percent. General Bank added 2.95 percent to 6.28 euros, a day after its main shareholder picked France’s Societe Generale as the preferred investor for a controlling stake in the bank. Turnover rose to 256.93 million euros, with 42.8 million shares changing hands. Winners led losers 186 to 125, with 49 unchanged. (Reuters)