Telecoms lift market in high-turnover session

Stocks gained yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), driven by telecommunications stocks, in a session marked by higher turnover. The ASE general index closed at 3,379.58 points, a gain of 19.16 points or 0.57 percent. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 0.65 percent to close at 1,877.32 points, while mid- and small-caps declined 0.06 percent and 0.09 percent respectively. OTE and mobile telecommunications subsidiary CosmOTE dominated the session following recommendation and target upgrades by investment bank Merrill Lynch and HSBC bank. The former upgraded its recommendation for OTE to «buy» from «neutral,» setting a target price of 20.50 euros per share; it also initiated coverage for CosmOTE with a «buy» recommendation and a target price of 20.50 euros. HSBC upgraded its target prices for OTE and CosmOTE to 17.70 and 18.50 euros respectively. As a result, OTE shares jumped 2.01 percent to close at 17.22 euros, while CosmOTE gained 1.81 percent, closing at 16.88 euros. Of 330 traded stocks, 134 gained, 142 declined and 54 ended unchanged. Turnover reached 222.33 million euros, including 43.87 million in prearranged trades. The latter included the transfer of 7,475,467 Lambrakis Press shares (a 9.007 percent stake) at 2.57 euros per share.