Index ends losing run

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index ended 0.70 percent higher on Friday than a week earlier, at 2,883.80 points – ending a run of four straight losing weeks. Turnover totaled 635.64 million euros, on a daily average of 127.13 million, against 142.37 million the previous week. All FTSE indices showed gains, led by the FTSE/ASE Mid-40, which added 0.71 percent. The respective blue chip and small-cap indices both ended 0.66 percent higher. The composite FTSE/ASE-140 index was also 0.66 percent up for the week. Ten of the 18 sectoral indices ended with gains, led by IT equipment-solutions (5.97 percent) and textiles (4.04 percent). Non-metallic minerals and cement was the chief loser (down 4.01 percent), followed by insurance (down 2.92 percent). Of 346 traded stocks, 175 advanced, 124 declined and 47 ended unchanged. Analysts noted that despite the still meager turnover, buying interest spread to a wider range of shares. This provides a somewhat better market picture and indicates potential for further gains if conditions improve in foreign markets, which have been unstable lately. Such a move would also depend on first-quarter results. This positive effect was evident last week in heavyweight gaming firm OPAP, which rebounded strongly after eight straight declining sessions on Tuesday, closing at 20.70 euros. EFG Eurobank is the first big bank expected to announce first-quarter results on Thursday, followed by Alpha on May 25. April data showed a return of foreign funds to the Greek market, evidently in search of low-priced opportunities.