Blue chips, led by banks, nudge index higher

The benchmark Athens Exchange (ATHEX) index yesterday gained for the first day in three, adding 0.2 percent, to 4,366.04 points, as blue chips held their own. The FTSE/ATHEX 20 index of the country’s largest companies rose 0.3 percent to 2,303. Aegean Airlines climbed 2.1 percent to -5.74, the first gain in three days. Greece’s second-largest carrier plans to expand its flight network to the UK, Albania and other destinations in Greece this year. EFG Eurobank rose 1.5 percent to -19.18, increasing for a fourth day. Greece’s second-biggest bank got a license to begin operating in Cyprus, the Mediterranean island’s central bank said. National Bank added 1.8 percent, to -41.46, snapping a two-day decline. Greece’s biggest bank may buy as many as 20 million of its own shares at no more than 60 euros apiece between February 8 and May 24, the company said in a bourse filing yesterday. Intralot climbed 4.0 percent, Hellenic Petroleum advanced 2.5 percent, Alpha Bank added 2.08 percent and OPAP rose 1.2 percent. By contrast, OTE telecom tumbled 2.7 percent, Viohalco declined 2.6 percent and Public Power Corporation shed 2.1 percent. Turnover totaled -301.9 million. The Cypriot General Market Index lost 1.4 percent to 3,773.48, declining for a third day. (Bloomberg)