ECONOMY

Blue chips rebound but turnover still lackluster

Rekindled buying interest in blue chips toward the end of yesterday’s trading on the Athens Stock Exchange allowed indices to rebound from initial falling trends but was not sufficient to lift turnover from its current lackluster levels. The general index gained 14.87 points, or 0.66 percent, to close at 2,257; turnover rose to 66.97 million euros from 48.43 million on Monday. The blue chip index gained 0.86 percent, mid-caps advanced 0.77 percent but small-caps slid a meager 0.03 percent. Banks and construction led the rebound with gains of 1.30 percent and 1.60 percent respectively. Merrill Lynch upgraded Alpha Bank from «neutral» to «buy,» setting a target price of 24.30 euros, saying that on the basis of projected 2005 results, the bank is trading at a 12 percent discount compared to its domestic rivals. Alpha gained 0.97 percent to 18.70 euros. OTE Telecom also attracted buying interest, closing 1.62 percent higher. Jewelry retailer Folli Follie and construction firm Hellenic Technodomiki outperformed with gains of 5.56 percent and 4.50 percent respectively. Advancers outnumbered decliners 137 to 126, with 79 remaining stable with 342 traded. Analysts said a fall in oil prices could push share prices up again, even at a low turnover.