ECONOMY

Athens Stock Exchange sees gains of 0.76 percent

Across-the-board gains led Greek equities 0.76 percent higher yesterday, in line with firmer European bourses, as the market digested the latest developments in the banking sector. Brokers said the market was in a consolidation phase after the collapse of the merger between the country’s two largest banks and news of Piraeus Bank’s finalized cross-border alliance with Dutch group ING. «There was interest from foreign institutionals in large-caps, with a focus on banks, which, in turn, rubbed off on smaller companies,» said broker Costas Karydis at DF Securities. «However, the majority of investors are in a wait-and-see mood.» The benchmark general index ended slightly off its intrasession high at 2,563.17 points. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips rose 0.71 percent to 1,392.14 points. The FTSE/ASE-40 index of mid-caps gained 0.45 percent and small-caps advanced 1.18 percent. Telecoms advanced 0.81 percent and OTE Telecom rose 0.33 percent to 18.36 euros. Banks gained 0.68 percent. Turnover was 130.37.11 million euros on volume of 23.8 million shares. (Reuters) Lehman Brothers said yesterday it had upgraded the National Bank of Greece to «buy» from «market perform,» lowering its price target to 28.3 euros from 30.6, following failed merger plans with Alpha Bank. »We believe that the collapse of the merger process leaves Alpha Bank at somewhat of a strategic impasse, with a comparatively weak retail market position,» Lehman analyst Joanna Nader said. The bank repeated a «market performer» rating for Alpha Bank and raised the price target to 19.2 euros from 19. (Reuters)