Index up 0.39 pct; OTE posts 17-month high

Shares ended with small gains yesterday, with telecoms operator OTE hitting a 17-month high, lifted by expectations of good 2003 results and helped by the telecoms rally across Europe. «The market is still in the consolidation phase, with uncertainty about the election results weighing. Good corporate results could take the market slightly higher,» said analyst Elias Lazaris at Artion Securities. The Athens Stock Exchange’s general share index added 0.39 percent to 2,473.29 points, while across Europe shares climbed to fresh 18-month highs. OTE climbed 1.44 percent to 12.68 euros, its highest close since September 2002, tracking the upward trend in European telecoms stocks. Market expectations of improved 2003 earnings also contributed to the rise in OTE shares, said Lazaris. The group reports on February 26. CosmOTE, OTE’s mobile arm, traded 1.02 percent up at 11.94 euros. It will report results tomorrow, before the market opens. Banks were mixed, with National Bank almost flat at 23 euros, while Alpha Bank (ACBr.AT) edged 1.69 percent higher to 25.24 euros. Turnover rose to 152.20 million euros, with 27.79 million shares changing hands. Losers led winners 227 to 75, with 53 unchanged. (Reuters)