Spearheaded by banks and telecoms, the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index yesterday broke through the 2,500-point barrier, rising by a robust 1.99 percent to close at 2,548.75 points – its highest level since April 28. It was the fifth straight session with gains and was accompanied by a doubling of turnover from Monday’s session to 237.77 million euros. Analysts attributed the strong buying interest by both Greek and foreign institutionals to the government’s renewed declaration on Monday to reduce corporate tax rates and to the restructuring plans of several blue chip companies (OTE, National Bank, Intracom). The banking index rose 2.80 percent while telecoms gained 1.98 percent. Alpha, National and Eurobank gained 3.85 percent, 3.28 percent and 2.07 percent, all reaching new year-highs. OTE advanced 2.94 percent and Intracom recorded a second straight day of large gains with 3.53 percent. Refineries also gained strongly, up 2.38 percent. Only construction and IT equipment-solutions headed south. The blue chip index was up 2.36 percent, mid-caps 1.35 percent and small-caps 0.41 percent. Advancers outnumbered decliners 189 to 90, with 84 remaining unchanged.