A climate of euphoria marked trading at the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) yesterday, with banks acting as the steam engine once again and helped by positive sentiment elsewhere in Europe. The general index closed on the day’s high, with gains of 2.10 percent at 2,635.81 points, the highest level since January 2002. Share prices rose for the eighth consecutive day, with the index reaching cumulative gains of 8.25 percent. Turnover reached a new year-high of 270.4 million euros as buying interest spread to mid- and small-caps. The banking index surged 3.05 percent, led by Piraeus Bank (6.56 percent) and Eurobank (4.54 percent). Among other blue chips, prominent gainers included Germanos (5.36 percent) and OPAP (4.67 percent). The publishing and printing index outperformed with gains of 6.45 percent. Blue chips advanced 2.33 percent, mid-caps 1.66 percent and small-caps 1.69 percent. Advancers beat decliners 245 to 58, with 63 stock prices remaining unchanged. Analysts noted that the resurgence of the ASE since early October is mainly due to the interest of European and American institutional investors.