Banks lead blue chip rally to 5-month high

Banks stole the show in a blue chip rally in the Greek bourse yesterday, leading stocks to a near five-month high, with a positive mood prevailing in the major European markets. The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) general index closed 1.68 percent higher at 4,075.48 points. The blue chip FTSE/ASE 20 index advanced 2.12 percent, the FTSE/ASE Mid-40 added 0.61 percent and the FTSE/ASE Small-Cap 80 ended 0.85 percent higher. None of the sectoral indices ended in negative territory, with banks in the driving seat gaining 2.62 percent. National Bank, which led blue chips by surging 3.83 percent higher, accounted for about one-fifth of turnover. Bank of Cyprus and ATEbank also ended more than 3 percent higher, Cosmote advanced 3 percent and Eurobank added 2.72 percent. Alpha Bank, Emporiki, Viohalco, Intracom, OTE and Folli-Follie also headed north. Coca-Cola HBC was unchanged despite a positive report by Dresdner Kleinwort. Germanos was the only blue chip that edged lower. Most analysts consider that the ASE is consolidating an upward momentum, even though in the present phase a considerable amount of liquidity has shifted from the lower capitalizations to blue chips. Barring any imported negative news the index is seen remaining on the ascent. Turnover totaled 357.29 million euros.