ECONOMY

Slight rise as investors await quarterly results

Shares closed with minor gains yesterday, tracking positive sentiment across Europe, with gaming company OPAP and power utility PPC leading blue chips higher. «The market has been range-trading this week between 2,350 to 2,380, with investors remaining cautious ahead of quarterly earnings. In the short term, it’s difficult to forecast a trend,» said analyst Nikos Kolios at Dynamic Securities. The general share index advanced 0.56 percent to 2,372.77 points. PPC rose 2.7 percent to 20.54 euros, erasing some of the previous day’s losses, posted after the European Commission warned Greece that exclusive lignite mining rights granted to the electricity utility may breach European competition rules. OPAP was another top performer, gaining 2.91 percent to 14.16 euros, its highest closing level in two weeks. «Investors see OPAP as a defensive stock. In addition, it has an attractive dividend yield for 2003,» said Kolios. Management has proposed a 0.73 euro per share full-year dividend after paying an interim dividend of 0.30 euros in November. Blue chips and mid-caps rose 0.57 percent and 0.23 percent, respectively, but small-caps ended flat. Turnover fell to 102.44 million euros, with 16.2 million shares changing hands. Advancers led decliners 147 to 140. (Reuters)