ECONOMY

Upbeat banks lead Athens bourse 0.91 pct higher

Upbeat banks lifted the Athens bourse for a third straight session yesterday as speculation on deals taking place among financials continued after the collapse of merger talks between National and Alpha Bank. «Different scenarios involving mergers, alliances and takeovers have maintained interest in the sector after the Alpha-National divorce,» said Grigoris Karayiannoulos, analyst at Bank of Cyprus Securities. National Bank gained 1.58 percent to 26.94 euros after jumping by more than 5 percent on Wednesday. Alpha Bank advanced 1.86 percent to 19.74 euros. Brokers said the collapse of the Alpha-National deal has also triggered portfolio reshuffling by institutionals. The benchmark general index added 0.91 percent to 2,620.92 points. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips rose 1.10 percent to 1,433.38 points. The FTSE/ASE-40 index of mid-caps gained 0.38 percent and small-caps added 0.19 percent. Turnover was 217.37 million euros on volume of 44.3 million shares.Winners outweighed losers 163 to 153, with 45 unchanged on 361 traded.(Reuters) Germanos