The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index accelerated gains for a third straight week, closing 2.02 percent higher on Friday than a week earlier at 2,961.63 points, after coming just a whisper away from 3,000 points. Turnover, including prearranged block trades, totaled 786.19 million euros, representing a daily average of 157.24 million, against 155.57 million euros a week earlier. All FTSE indices showed gains, led by the blue chip FTSE/ASE 20, which added 2.54 percent. The respective small-cap and mid-cap indices ended 1.67 and 0.13 percent higher. The composite FTSE/ASE-140 index was 2.32 percent up for the week. Fourteen of the 18 sectoral indices ended with gains, led by telecoms (4.76 percent) which was propelled mainly by OTE’s 6.85 percent leap on Thursday, and refineries (4.59 percent). Real estate was the chief loser (down 2.20 percent). Of 347 traded stocks, 149 advanced, 161 declined and 37 ended unchanged. The stocks with the largest turnover were OTE, gaming firm OPAP and National Bank. Analysts argue that the market needs time to digest the recent ascent of share prices and that this is why they ended lower on Friday. However, the fact that the announcement of OTE’s early retirement scheme brought other blue chips into the fray, firing investors’ expectations of similar deals in other utilities, and that the largest buy orders came from abroad, is taken to show the market’s potential for further rises provided there is an inflow of important news.