The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) general index last week rose to an 86-month high, after briefly breaking through the 4,900-point barrier during trading but failing to hold it. Investors showed a robust interest in banks and small-caps which, combined with the positive first-quarter results announced by most firms, kept the index on a northbound course. At the same time, the positive mood in other European bourses, buttressed by the successive historic highs on Wall Street, is fueling optimism for a further ATHEX rise. The most notable developments this month have been the steady ascendance of small-caps, the improvement in the business climate – confirmed by ANEK Lines’ successful -101 million share capital increase – and the realization of business deals such as those between Elmec Sport and Laskaridis on the one hand, and Atti-Kat and Terna on the other. Market players stress that the positive mood in Athens is maintained and strengthened both by the expectation of good results, both for the first quarter and 2007 as a whole. Indeed, most brokerages estimate that average profitability will grow by 16-17 percent this year. It is also said that at the same time as Greek businesses continue to expand into neighboring Balkan markets, business deals will maintain the strong investment interest in the local stock market, as long as there are no unpleasant surprises from the international arena. According to Dimitris Tzanas, an investment consultant at Proton Bank, an investor’s portfolio always has to reflect his/her risk profile and the risk has to be adequately dispersed in both cash and mutual fund assets.