The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index last week continued its gradual ascent toward the 2,700-point mark, gaining 0.46 percent the previous week to close at 2,682.58 points on Friday. Investors were encouraged by the prospects of a settlement of banks’ social insurance issue and new business deals, as well as the projected satisfactory corporate profits in the performance of firms in Europe and the US. However, weekly turnover fell to 785.94 million euros, representing an average per session of 157.19 million, against 202.38 million the week before. Among Financial Times indices, the Mid-Cap 40 again led with gains of 1.53 percent; the 20 blue-chip index ended 0.82 percent higher and the Small-Cap 80 was up 0.48 percent. Two-thirds of sectoral indices headed north, with insurance outperforming with gains of 10.43 percent and information technology advancing 6.84 percent. Refineries and construction headed south, both shedding 2.11 percent. Of the 367 individual stocks traded, 158 advanced, 185 ended lower and 24 remained unchanged. Kavala fishery Xifias’s preferred stock outperformed with gains of 41.67 percent, while Ideal preferred stock crashed hardest with losses of 38 percent. Alpha Bank, OPAP and National Bank led in terms of turnover. Stockbrokers said the market is likely to pick up strength at the present price levels in the short term, with the index already at a three-year high. Foreign institutionals are considered likely to further strengthen their positions if prices recede.