Increased interest by investors boosts market

Shares gained yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange, boosted by continuing positive foreign reports on bank stocks and renewed interest on blue chips by foreign institutionals. Gains spread across the board. The ASE general index closed at a fresh year-high of 2,870.18 points, a gain of 21.11 points or 0.74 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 0.98 percent, while mid- and small-caps gained 0.67 percent and 0.50 percent respectively. Yesterday, it was the turn of UBS to provide an upbeat assessment of banking sector prospects, saying that earnings per share in Greece’s sector will post the second-highest growth in Europe, 39.9 percent, compared to a European average of 11.8 percent. UBS also predicts credit will expand 16.3 percent versus 8.2 percent in Europe. Alpha and National were top gainers among banks, rising 2.14 percent and 1.90 percent respectively, while other big gainers among blue chips included Titan (4.45 percent), Folli-Follie (3.13 percent), Intracom (2.78 percent) and Hellenic Petroleum (2.43 percent). Of the 354 traded stocks, 175 gained, 120 declined and 59 ended unchanged. Turnover rose to 238.58 million euros, including 43.3 million in prearranged trades.

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