Stocks rose to new year-highs yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with banks leading the way once again and buying interest spreading across the board. The ASE general index closed at 2,644.43 points, a gain of 32.96 points or 1.26 percent, having momentarily breached the 2,650-point level. The closing was the bourse’s highest since December 11, 2001. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 1.38 percent to close at 1,459.25 points. The mid-cap and small-cap indices gained 0.82 percent and 1.03 percent respectively. Agricultural and Emporiki gained the most among banks, rising 8.97 percent and 7.90 percent respectively. Alpha Bank gained 2.06 percent to close at 24.76 euros, while Eurobank gained 1.61 percent to close at 21.42 euros. National Bank had a modest 0.26 percent gain, closing at 23.26 euros. State betting company OPAP gained 1.87 percent to reach a year-high of 18.56 euros. Morgan Stanley Capital International announced yesterday that it had dropped Piraeus Bank and cement firm Titan from its MSCI Small-Cap Index. Out of 359 traded stocks, 206 gained, 81 declined and 72 ended unchanged. Turnover jumped to 276 million euros, including 56.52 million in prearranged trades.