Hot banks drive slight gain in general index

Stocks gained slightly on the Athens Stock Exchange yesterday as investor interest focused on a few blue chips. This narrow focus was still enough to counter selling pressure in medium- and small-capitalization stocks by investors who chose to liquidate their profits. The ASE general index closed at 2,466.89 points, a gain of 3.56 points or 0.14 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 0.39 percent to close at 1,354.56 points, while mid- and small-caps declined 0.34 percent and 0.45 percent, respectively. Most investor interest was directed at National Bank and EFG Eurobank. Both reached new year highs: National gained 1.57 percent to close at 21.98 euros, while Eurobank gained 1.37 percent to 20.66 euros. Alpha bank gained marginally (0.09 percent to 22.52 euros), while Emporiki dropped 1.18 percent to 20.12 euros. OTE Telecom gained 1.82 percent to 11.20 euros, while mobile telecommunications subsidiary CosmOTE declined 0,55 percent to 14.34 euros after rising 3 percent on Thursday. Out of 358 traded shares, 107 gained, 174 declined and 77 ended unchanged. Trading volume declined to 141.69 million euros, including 15.45 million in prearranged trades of share blocks.