Shares closed higher on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), led by the banking sector on expectations of improved first-quarter results, brokers said. On the last session before the Easter holiday, the ASE’s general index closed 1.33 percent higher at 2,451.72 points. The blue chip index closed up 1.53 percent at 1,288.37 points. Mid-caps gained 1.06 percent and small-caps, 1.26 percent. Banks rose 1.96 percent, with National Bank rising 2.42 percent to 22.88 euros, Alpha Bank up 2.48 percent to 26.40 euros and EFG Eurobank 2.59 percent higher at 17.46 euros. Cement producer Titan closed up 0.66 percent at 36.68 euros after HSBC reiterated its «add» recommendation on the stock and gave a price target of 41 euros. HSBC said Titan trades at significant discounts to its peers, yet offers a stronger earnings outlook. Telecoms gained 1.61 percent with OTE moving up 1.39 percent to 11.68 euros and its subsidiary CosmOTE up 1.92 percent to 12.74 euros. Elsewhere, state gaming operator OPAP declined 1.70 percent to 13.84 euros, hit by UBS reiterating a target price of 13.60, brokers said. Energy monopoly PPC rose 2.60 percent to 22.06 euros. Volume reached 118.83 million euros, with advancers leading decliners, 238 to 61. The Athens Stock Exchange will open again on Tuesday, after the Easter break.