ASE index only a breath away from 2,500 points

Supported by positive sentiment in foreign markets, Greek shares on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) yesterday maintained the upward momentum of recent sessions and closed 0.40 percent higher, just a breath away from the 2,500-point barrier, at 2,499.12. Alpha Bank gained 1.69 percent to 22.84 euros after investment bank Merrill Lynch raised its target price to 29.50 euros and maintained its «buy» recommendation. Piraeus Bank advanced 3.06 percent as investors expect it to report a substantial rise in nine-month profits today. EFG Eurobank is due to report results on Thursday and analysts expect interest in banks to stay up this week. Phone equipment maker Intracom outperformed with gains of 6.25 percent after announcing an early retirement program. Despite the modest gains of the general index, only two sectoral indices headed south – investment and wholesale commerce – as small-caps outperformed with gains of 0.95 percent. Blue chips and mid-caps were up 0.53 percent and 0.25 percent respectively. Textiles led winners with 3.75 percent, followed by publishing and printing with 2.79 percent. Turnover slid to 118.27 million euros. Advancers outnumbered decliners 196 to 86, with 74 unchanged on 356 traded.