ECONOMY

New year-high closing follows European trend

Stocks gained yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), helped by buoyant European markets which are near three-year highs. The ASE general index closed at 3,442.20 points, a gain of 19.84 points or 0.58 percent. This is a level last reached over four-and-a-half years ago. The FTSE/ASE-20 index of blue chips gained 0.64 percent to close at 1,924.09 points, while mid-caps and small-caps gained 0.90 percent and 0.27 percent respectively. Investor interest focused on Emporiki Bank, due to Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis’s announcement to US investors that the state will sell all of its shares in the bank. Emporiki gained 2.85 percent, closing at 25.28 euros. Other blue chips that registered gains included National Bank (up 2.11 percent, to a year-high of 33.88 euros), cement producer Titan (1.22 percent, to 29.80 euros), refiner Motor Oil (0.93 percent, to 17.36 euros), betting company OPAP (0.89 percent, to 24.86 euros) and Alpha Bank (0.80 percent, to 25.06 euros). Of 335 traded stocks, 143 gained, 134 declined and 58 ended unchanged. Turnover reached 243.63 million euros, including 34.5 million in prearranged trades. The latter included the transfer of 3,360,125 Piraeus Bank shares (1.68 percent of the total) to institutionals at 17 euros per share.