OPAP and PPC provide a boost; banks mixed

Shares returned to positive terrain yesterday, with lottery operator OPAP resuming its advance and PPC outperforming. «Blue chips boosted the market today, with investors doing selective stock picking,» said portfolio manager Costas Bouropoulos at Kyklos Securities. Traders said investors shifted from banks to more defensive and attractively valued stocks in the telecoms and utilities sectors. The benchmark share index added 0.62 percent to 2,432.67 points, outperforming European bourses. OPAP gained 4.37 percent to 14.80 euros, having gained nearly 17 percent since it unveiled a 14 percent rise in 2003 net profit on February 3. «The stock is still basking in positive research notes, which came out after its forecast-beating results,» said Bouropoulos. PPC advanced 2.06 percent to 21.80 euros, its highest close this year. Banks were mixed. National Bank rose 0.18 percent to 22.50 euros but Alpha Bank shed 1.37 percent to 24.50 euros. Blue chips rose 0.52 percent while mid-caps and small-caps rose 0.31 percent and 0.87 percent higher, respectively. Turnover rose to 157.33 million euros, with 27.90 million shares changing hands. Decliners led advancers 143 to 137, with 74 unchanged. (Reuters)