Foreign institutionals come back in force

Stocks gained significantly yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE). Besides renewed interest by foreign institutionals, the market was positively affected by investment house reports that either confirmed or raised share price targets, especially for Alpha Bank and OTE. For the former, UBS raised its target price to 31 euros from 27, Deutsche Bank to 27.4 euros from 27, while CSFB and JP Morgan confirmed their targets of 28 and 25 euros respectively. The ASE general index closed at 3,281 points, the session high, a gain of 49.52 points or 1.53 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 1.48 percent to close at 1,827.95 points, while mid- and small-caps gained 1.85 percent and 1.12 percent respectively. New year-highs were achieved by telecommunications equipment manufacturer Intracom (up 9.06 percent to 6.02 euros) and bottler Coca-Cola HBC (1.93 percent to 25.32 euros). Other blue chips with significant gains were refiner Hellenic Petroleum (3.66 percent to 9.62 euros), National Bank (2.26 percent to 30.80 euros), OPAP (1.94 percent to 26.24 euros) and Alpha Bank (1.59 percent to 22.98 euros). Of 334 traded stocks, 201 gained, 61 declined and 72 ended unchanged. Turnover declined slightly to 195.75 million euros, including 21.43 million in prearranged trade.