ECONOMY

Banks, OPAP help drive index over 2,400 points

Shares ended with gains of close to 2 percent yesterday, with EFG Eurobank outperforming ahead of its going ex-dividend today. «There was interest in banks today ahead of their stocks going ex-dividend. But trading volume was low, with investors cautious on small-caps and mid-caps because of their high volatility,» said analyst Christos Samothrakis at Market Securities. The general share index rose 1.95 percent to 2,419.07 points, breaching the 2,400-point level for the first time since March 12. Eurobank gained 3.18 percent to 17.52 euros, a four-week closing high. Eurobank shareholders yesterday approved a 2003 dividend of 0.60 euros per share, which yields 3.4 percent. Traders said press reports suggesting the Greek State was likely to buy up to 400,000 shares in gaming operator OPAP, after it underestimated the amount of bonus shares retail investors were entitled to, drove the stock up. Shares in OPAP advanced 2.54 percent to 14.52 euros, not far off a year-high of 15 euros set in late February. Blue chips gained 2.04 percent, mid-caps added 1.54 percent, while small-caps rose 1.41 percent. Turnover rose to 116.06 million euros, with 17.46 million shares changing hands. Advancers led decliners 220 to 85. (Reuters)