The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index broke through the 2,600-point barrier for the second time in 10 days yesterday, on the back of continued strong interest in blue chips by foreign institutionals, satisfactory nine-month results for most reporting firms and the low prices of small- and mid-caps. The general index gained 0.86 percent to close at 2,619.69 points. In terms of the FTSE indices, blue chips ended 0.74 percent higher, mid-caps advanced 1.75 percent while small-caps outperformed, closing 2.49 percent stronger. The banking index gained 0.89 percent, but National, whose 7.46 percent stake was placed by the government, shed 0.94 percent to close at 23.14 euros. Sources said the placement took place at 22.74 euros per share. The publishing and printing index outperformed with a gain of 3.14 percent, closely followed by insurance and textiles. Turnover edged up to 186.24 million euros. Winners outnumbered losers 288 to 40 on 365 traded. The most marketable securities were National Bank, gaming firm OPAP (which reported an 84.5 percent rise in nine-month profit to 546.2 million euros) and OTE Telecom.