ECONOMY

2005 results work up investors’ exuberance

Aggressive buying of Piraeus and National Bank shares pulled the Greek stock market north for the fifth consecutive session yesterday. The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index closed 0.94 percent up at 4,221.28 points, a 66-month high, after reaching 4,253 points in intra-session trading. Analysts said announcements of upbeat 2005 results, the government’s declared privatization plans and successive upgradings of blue chip price targets lay the basis for the strong buying sentiment. Piraeus Bank, which posted a 107 percent rise in 2005 profit on Tuesday, surged 9.83 percent to 24.36 euros after Citigroup raised its price target to 27 euros and JP Morgan to 32 euros. National Bank reached a new historic high of 41.81 euros with gains of 3.77 percent, in anticipation of a much-higher-than-average rise in 2005 profitability. Emporiki and Bank of Cyprus were also perky, with respective gains of 2.75 percent and 3.43 percent. Despite the positive sentiment, most shares declined on liquidations of small-caps. Turnover shot up to 664.97 million euros, of which more than half was accounted for by the four most marketable shares, Alpha Bank (206.9 million, including a prearranged block trade), Piraeus Bank, National Bank and OPAP.