ECONOMY

Blue chips ascend again; small-caps miss party

Continued strong interest in blue chips maintained the ascent of the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index yesterday, helped by buoyant sentiment elsewhere in Europe where markets are at an average 30-month high. The index initially underwent a 0.83 correction but banks helped it recover, to close at 2,837.26 points with gains of 0.45 percent. The blue chip FTSE/ASE 20 index advanced 0.46 percent, the Mid-Cap 40 headed north 0.95 percent, while the Small-Cap 80 edged 0.01 percent higher. The continued lopsided interest was clearly illustrated by the fact that decliners beat advancers 212 to 90, while 47 stock prices remained unchanged. The heavyweight banks sectoral index gained 0.64 percent, refineries were 1.57 percent higher and information technology climbed 1.51 percent. By contrast, textiles shed 1.96 percent and insurers 1.62 percent. The Public Power Corporation advanced 2.49 percent and Alpha Bank gained 2.00 percent. OTE Telecom shed 2.05 percent. A number of stockbrokers take the view that 2005 will give a similar picture to 2004, when the general index was buoyed by blue chips but most stocks were left out in the cold. Turnover climbed to 198.45 billion euros.