ECONOMY

Citigroup report gives banks a strong boost

Greek stocks rose to a near three-month high yesterday, as foreign institutionals showed a strong interest in blue chips, mainly banks. Analysts said the sharp rise in turnover, to 260 million euros, especially at this time of year, bodes well for short-term prospects. The Athens bourse general index was up 1.50 percent to 3,915.88 points. All capitalizations headed north, with the blue chip FTSE/ASE 20 index jumping 1.64 percent higher. The mid- and small-cap indices added 1.07 percent and 0.73 percent respectively. Most sectoral indices closed higher, led by insurance with 2.50 percent and banks with 2.42 percent. Commerce, petroleum and gas, personal and household goods, and chemicals were down. ATEbank outperformed blue chips with a steep gain of 5.61 percent; National Bank surged 3.33 percent; Eurobank advanced 2.54 percent; Alpha Bank added 1.99 percent and Emporiki was 1.75 percent higher. Piraeus Bank gained 1.72 percent. Investors’ interest in banks was spurred by a Citigroup report according to which Greek banks are at historically attractive levels and are recommended for buying. The top 10 in terms of turnover included OPAP, OTE, Titan, Coca-Cola HBC and Public Power Corporation. Cosmote gained 2.07 percent.