Banks push ASE near 3,100, a 45-month high

The Athens bourse yesterday continued its advance, reaching a 45-month high mainly on foreign interest in banks which continue to be the subject of positive reports by investment houses. The general index closed 1.24 percent up at 3.092.86 points. Alpha Bank surged 4.54 percent to 28.08 euros, after Citigroup’s Smith Barney raised its price target to 32 from a previous 26.1 euros, keeping its «buy/medium risk» rating in a research note. «The group reported (on Wednesday) continuing net interest margin and credit volume expansion, particularly in retail segments. This trend is the key support to our overall positive investment view on the Greek banks, and we find it reassuring that it has been reconfirmed,» it said in the note. National Bank climbed 3.34 percent, while EFG Eurobank advanced 2.42 percent and Piraeus Bank 2.40 percent. The telecoms index ended 1.11 percent higher. The blue chip FTSE/ASE-20 index gained 1.76 percent, the FTSE/ASE Mid-40 0.75 percent and the FTSE/ASE Small-Cap 80 0.70 percent. Advancers outnumbered decliners 181 to 102, while 68 share prices remained unchanged. Turnover surged to 254 million euros.