Resurgent interest in banks, National leads

The benchmark Athens Exchange (ATHEX) index rose for the second time this week, adding 59.39, or 1.4 percent, to 4,344.93 points. The FTSE/ATHEX 20 index of the country’s largest companies, led by banks, added 1.7 percent to 2,273.85. The banks sectoral index advanced 2.7 percent, with National climbing 4.1 percent to -38.20. Alpha Bank rose 40 cents, or 1.9 percent, to -20.98, the fourth straight advance. Goldman, Sachs & Co maintained its «conviction buy» recommendation on shares of Greece’s third-largest bank, according to a research report. The company is scheduled to report earnings on February 26. Bank of Attica added 8 cents, or 2.4 percent, to -3.48, climbing for the first time in three days. The bank controlled by the Engineers’ Pension Fund said 2007 net income rose to -20.9 million ($30.8 million) from -900,000 the previous year. Titan Cement, Greece’s biggest maker of the building material, fell 52 cents, or 1.7 percent, to -30.04, declining for a second day. The share price forecast was cut to -34.20 from -35.60 by analysts at Piraeus Securities yesterday. Citigroup Inc cut its price estimate for the shares to 31- from -34 today. Turnover totaled -341.3 million. The Cypriot General Index climbed 1.9 percent to 3,889.25. (Bloomberg, Kathimerini)