Buying interest in stocks flared yesterday, sending the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index higher. The ASE general index closed at the intraday high of 2,353.25 points, a rise of 41.72 points or 1.80 percent. Blue chips gained 1.42 percent to close at 1,256.72 points, mid-caps rose 2.89 percent and small-caps 3.37 percent. For the third session in a row, shares of the Klonatex group of companies rose to near the upper limit: The five stocks on offer rose between 17.14 and 17.80 percent. This time, however, investor interest spread into other small- and mid-cap stocks, which had been neglected for several weeks. Analysts remarked that while small-caps offer better opportunities for quick profits, they are also much riskier. Publishing and printing stocks rose 12.44 percent and textiles 7.09 percent. Banks went up 1.55 percent. Among them National Bank rose 3.12 percent, as investors hoped for good half-year results this year. On the contrary, Emporiki Bank lost 2.08 percent, as investors believe its first-half profits will decline. Among 361 stocks traded, 296 gained, 32 declined and 33 ended unchanged. Turnover rose significantly, to 109.04 million euros, of which only 3.50 million concerned prearranged transfers of share blocks.