Stocks gained ground yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), with the index closing just 0.06 points off the year’s high. According to analysts, the market reacted positively to PM Costas Karamanlis’s announcement on Sunday proposing Socialist former foreign minister Karolos Papoulias for the largely ceremonial post of president of the republic. With Papoulias having the backing of the two major parties, there is no reason to expect early elections, as would happen should there be a deadlock over the president’s election in Parliament. However, the rise in the market was not accompanied by higher turnover. The ASE general index closed at 2,699.46 points, a gain of 16.88 points or 0.63 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 0.73 percent to close at 1,483.46 points, while mid-caps and small-caps gained 0.51 percent and 0.04 percent respectively. Banks drove the market yesterday, with Emporiki, EFG Eurobank Ergasias and National Bank rising 1.45 percent, 1.33 percent and 0.99 percent respectively. There were also significant gains by Titan (1.13 percent) and OPAP (1.06 percent). Out of the 354 traded stocks, 150 gained, 128 declined and 76 ended unchanged. Turnover was 152.18 million euros, including 51.49 million in prearranged trades.