ECONOMY

Buoyant banks and PPC combine to boost stocks

Shares ended higher on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) yesterday, with buoyant banks and electricity utility Public Power Corporation leading the blue chip advance. «The market tracked positive sentiment across Europe today, with some mild profit taking seen among recent gainers. Turnover remained low however,» said analyst Vassilis Vlastarakis at Contalexis Financial Services. The general share index added 0.71 percent to 2,466.35 points, tailing European bourses which came to within a whisker of 2004 highs. Banks outperformed, with National Bank setting a seven-day closing high as the stock rose 1.51 percent to 22.90 euros. EFG Eurobank advanced 1.53 percent to 17.30 euros, not far off a year-high set in early March. «Banks are due to report first-quarter results in about 10 days and this is fueling interest in the stocks,» said Vlastarakis. PPC was among the gainers, climbing 1.29 percent to 22.0 euros ahead of the stock going ex-dividend today. Blue chips closed 0.76 percent higher, mid-caps gained 0.57 percent while small-caps rose 0.70 percent. Turnover nosed up to 104.38 million shares, with 17.24 million shares changing hands. Winners outnumbered losers 172 to 111. (Reuters)