Marfin Popular surges, Hellenic Exchanges falls

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark index yesterday gained 0.8 percent to 4,353.61 points, after two days of declines. The FTSE/ATHEX 20 index of the country’s biggest companies added 1 percent to 2,280.37. Hellenic Exchanges fell 2.3 percent to -20.52, sliding for a fourth day. The operator of the Athens stock and derivatives exchanges said net income last year climbed 57 percent on increased trading. The company will pay a dividend of 75 cents a share and plans to buy back as much as 10 percent of its outstanding shares. Intracom Holdings added 3.7 percent to -2.80, the biggest advance in three days. The company’s software application unit and its partners got a -96 million contract with the European Commission, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday. Marfin Popular Bank gained 6 percent to -7.40, the steepest one-day advance in a month. Cyprus’s second-biggest bank was maintained as a «buy» rating with a share price forecast of -12 by Citigroup. Dubai Financial Group, which already has a 20 percent stake in the bank, is likely to get permission to increase that holding to 30 percent, Citigroup said. The Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) declined 1.1 percent to -23.72, the third straight decline as dock workers continue their go-slows. (Bloomberg)