ECONOMY

Index nears 4,100 pts on hopes of big profits

Stocks gained significantly yesterday on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) in a session marked by strong buying interest across the board. According to market analysts, investors are discounting listed companies’ financial results for 2005, expected to be announced in the following weeks. The market was also given a boost by a Merrill Lynch report saying that Greek banks’ profit gain this year will be double the European average. The ASE composite share price index closed at 4,097.41 points, a gain of 48.69 points or 1.20 percent. The FTSE/Athex 20 index of blue chips gained 1.25 percent to close at 2,233.60 points, while mid-caps and small-caps gained 1.64 percent and 4.68 percent respectively. The FTSE/Athex International index gained 1.33 percent to close at 5,639.18 points. Among blue chips, significant gains were posted by metals group Viohalco (up 5.24 percent to 10.04 euros), betting company OPAP (2.24 percent to 32.82 euros), EFG Eurobank (2.22 percent to 32.20 euros), Alpha Bank (1.84 percent to 29.84 euros), technology holding company Intracom (1.67 percent to 7.32 euros) and National Bank (1.54 percent to 38.64 euros). Of 329 traded shares, 243 gained, 53 declined and 33 ended unchanged. Turnover reached 287 million euros.