ECONOMY

Banks lead index higher but PPC underperforms

Shares rebounded yesterday, closing with slight gains and outperforming European bourses, which hit one-month lows, with banks leading the climb. «Banks were in the spotlight today, with investors looking ahead to first-half results on hopes of a sharp rise in profits,» said analyst Andrew Alexiou at Beta Securities. «Corporate earnings (due end-July) should provide direction to the market,» he added. The general share index closed 0.38 percent higher at 2,338.22 points. Blue chips added 0.71 percent, mid-caps were virtually flat, while small-caps rose 0.31 percent. Alpha Bank was the biggest blue-chip gainer, advancing 2.48 percent to 20.68 euros. The bank will report first-half results on July 28. Buying interest also spread to bellwether National Bank, which rose 2.19 percent to 17.74 euros. Power utility Public Power Corporation (PPC) fell 2.0 percent to 18.58 euros, with traders saying rising crude oil prices weighed on the stock as this would jack up its production costs. Turnover rose to 71.15 million euros, with 12.61 million shares changing hands. Decliners led advancers 166 to 110, with 71 shares unchanged. (Reuters)