Stocks climb again; bank shares firm

Banks extended recent gains yesterday, leading the Athens bourse more than 1 percent higher. «Merger scenarios continue to boost buying interest in banks. Expectations are high that we will see reforms in the sector this summer,» said Annie Triantafyllou, head analyst at National Securities. Banks rose 1.44 percent, adding to gains of nearly 4 percent a day earlier. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index closed 1.04 percent higher at 2,298.29 points, below the day’s high of 2,304.81 points. Other brokers said that improving volumes helped support broader upbeat sentiment. Turnover improved to 126.42 million euros on volume of 25.3 million shares. The bourse’s FTSE-20 blue chip index added 1.14 percent to 1,208.08 points. Mid-caps rose 1.17 percent and small-caps added 1.30 percent. Winners beat losers 229 to 80 while a total of 53 shares were unchanged on 362 traded. (Reuters) Explosive deal