ECONOMY

Index rises over 2,500 points to 26-month high

Equities closed at a 26-month high yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), shrugging off mixed European performance, after the biggest Greek bank said it was planning a bonus share issue, news that boosted its share price. The general share index closed 1.27 percent higher at 2,516.57 points, a level last seen in February 2002. Blue chips rose 1.43 percent, mid-caps gained 1.21 percent, while small-caps nudged up 0.75 percent. «The market has charted out a course that is independent from international markets, and is drawing strength from domestic factors,» said Manos Hadzidakis, chief analyst at Magna Trust Securities. «Interest is coming mainly from abroad, as the Greek market is coming into the spotlight because of the Olympic Games.» National Bank rose almost 3 percent to 23.60 euros after the bank announced it will seek shareholder approval for a three-for-10 bonus share issue in its annual assembly on May 18. «National Bank was the story of the day, and suddenly the momentum turned, and at these trading levels, I don’t see it slipping,» one trader said. Turnover shot up to 196.50 million euros, with 27.3 million shares changing hands. Advancers led decliners 215 to 85, with 65 shares ending unchanged. (Reuters)