Mid-caps advance

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) climbed to a new 45-month high last week, its general index gaining 0.93 percent to close at 3,092.77 points on Friday. ASE’s compounded gains this year rose to 11.01 percent, considerably above the world’s main bourses. Although foreign institutionals continue to express strong confidence in banking blue chips, which account for the bulk of turnover, mid-caps and small-caps have gained more in the first two months of the year. The blue-chip FTSE/ASE 20 index is up 11.36 percent, the FTSE Mid-40 is up 15.53 percent, and the FTSE/ASE Small-Cap 80 up 13.45 percent. In terms of sectoral indices, information technology has advanced 20.93 percent; banks, 10.72 percent; telecoms, 7.31 percent and construction 5.71 percent. Last week, foods and beverages and banks led with respective gains of 3.78 percent and 3.59 percent, while telecoms and refineries lost the most, 3.88 and 3.04 percent. Total turnover declined to 379.83 million euros, representing an average per session of 75.97 million, against 85.60 million the week before. Among the 359 stocks traded, decliners led advancers 174 to 152, and 33 share prices remained unchanged. The most marketable securities were OTE and banks National and Alpha. Analysts note that despite ASE’s continuing good performance, bolstered by ample foreign liquidity inflows and higher-than-expected dividends by most firms, most domestic investors either abstain or sell. The last reports of listed firms’ 2004 results are due today.

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