Banks still driving ASE higher as reform looms

Stocks continued their gains on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) for the fourth session in a row yesterday, as investors expressed confidence in a swift solution to the issue of banks’ auxiliary pension funds. There was also great demand for medium-capitalization stocks. The ASE general index closed at 3,049.33 points, a gain of 30.24 points or 1 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 1.36 percent to close at 1,716.81 points, while the mid-cap and small-cap indices gained 2.51 percent and 0.14 percent respectively. Among bank stocks, the biggest gain was once again posted by Alpha Bank (up 2.65 percent), which closed at 24.06 euros. It was followed by Piraeus (up 2.31 percent to 15.08 euros) and Emporiki (1.79 percent to 27 euros). In a report released yesterday, Deutsche Bank set a share price target of 32 euros for National Bank, with a «buy» recommendation and 27 euros for Eurobank with a «hold» recommendation. A Citigroup report said Greek banks will outperform the market; its top picks are Alpha, with a target price of 26 euros and National (target price 32 euros). Of the 331 traded stocks, 124 gained, 139 declined and 68 ended unchanged. Turnover rose to 246.17 million euros, including 22.5 million in prearranged trades.

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