ECONOMY

Market continues to rise, driven by surging banks

Shares closed with solid gains yesterday, helped by stronger European markets, with Alpha Bank outperforming ahead of going ex-dividend tomorrow. «The market continued its rebound today, reacting to last week’s decline, driven mainly by banks, which are starting to regain some of their recently lost momentum,» said analyst Vassilis Kararizos at Marfin Analysis. The general share index ended 1.92 percent higher at 2,376.95 points, its highest level in more than a week, outpacing European stocks. Alpha Bank topped blue chips, gaining 4.25 percent to 25.98 euros, its best performance in a week. Management will propose a dividend of 0.60 euros per share for 2003 at its annual shareholders’ meeting today. Traders said the dividend story and expectations that banks will continue to improve their results also fueled gains in other bank stocks, with National Bank closing 3.78 percent higher at 20.84 euros and EFG Eurobank ending up 3.76 percent at 16.56 euros. Blue chips gained 2.16 percent while mid-caps and small-caps rose 2.65 percent and 2.53 percent respectively. Turnover fell to 119.97 million euros, with 30.57 million shares changing hands. Winners led losers 282 to 43. (Reuters)