ECONOMY

ASE at new 3-year high

Despite an initial feeble start, the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index closed near the session high on Friday, at 2,736.51 points, with gains of 0.88 percent, or 1.17 percent higher than a week earlier. (Due to technical reasons, details of Friday’s stock closing prices were unavailable and, therefore, the adjacent tables have been compiled according to Thursday’s closing prices). Most analysts consider it a positive sign that the index closed higher than the technical barrier of 2,728 points and argue that the market was driven by those who believe in an even better last week of the year. Others argue, however, that the final picture was determined by a lack of buyers (the bourse closed two hours earlier than usual on Christmas Eve, and turnover was a relatively meager 66.1 million euros, down 48.44 percent from Thursday). Among Financial Times indices, the blue-chip 20 index ended 1.00 percent higher, the mid-cap 40 gained 0.24 percent and the small-cap 80 advanced 0.95 percent. Banks and telecommunications led the advance with respective gains of 0.96 percent and 1.29 percent. Among blue chips, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank recorded a new inter-session year-high, bringing their respective weekly gains to 5.96 percent and 4.87 percent. After eight consecutive sessions, advancers significantly outnumbered decliners, 198 to 70. Although most analysts believe the index is oriented still higher, they are doubtful that 2005 will be better any than 2004.