ECONOMY

Blue chips at the helm ahead of telecom results

Shares closed with gains of slightly more than 1 percent on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) yesterday, with National Bank outperforming and telecom stocks picking up ahead of their first-quarter financial results. «Expectations that the rest of the banks and CosmOTE will report good first-quarter results drove the market up today. As long as there are positive corporate surprises, the uptrend will continue,» said analyst Andrew Alexiou at Beta Securities. «But we could see some investors booking short-term gains within the week,» he added. The benchmark general share index ended 1.08 percent higher at 2,544.82 points, tracking the advance in European bourses, which was helped by technology stocks. Bellwether National Bank was the top blue chip gainer, rising 2.66 percent to 25.48 euros, a 29-month closing high. Traders said expectations of good first-quarter earnings from mobile operator CosmOTE drove the stock up 1.34 percent to 13.58 euros, close to a year-high of 13.70 euros. CosmOTE will report on May 13, while parent OTE Telecom reports on May 27. OTE shares gained 0.66 percent. Blue chips advanced 1.29 percent, mid-caps nosed up 0.19 percent, while small-caps added 0.21 percent. Turnover rose to 207.83 million euros, with 65.2 million shares changing hands. Advancers led decliners 159 to 142. (Reuters)