Blue chips, led by banks, continue their advance

The Athens Exchange (ATHEX) benchmark index gained 58.53, or 1.4 percent, in thin trade to 4,164.25, the highest in five weeks, on a blue chip rebound. The FTSE/ATHEX 20 Index of the country’s biggest companies advanced 1.7 percent to 2,188.68. Bank of Cyprus climbed 4.2 percent, Coca-Cola HBC added 3.4 percent, OPAP was 3 percent higher, Marfin Popular Bank gained 2.6 percent and National Bank rose 2.4 percent. Alpha Bank lost 2.4 percent, to 21.42 euros, as shares of Greece’s third-biggest bank began trading without a dividend of 90 cents a share on last year’s earnings as of today. Excluding the payout, the stock rose 1.8 percent. Babis Vovos Construction jumped 1.1 percent, to 19 euros, its biggest one-day gain in six weeks. Analysts at JP Morgan Chase & Co wrote in a note to clients that Greece’s largest real-estate developer was one of their three top picks among European property companies. Terna lost 1.8 percent, to 7.58 euros, after gaining 2.9 percent on April 4. GEK, the holding company with interests in energy and construction, said it plans to buy the remaining shares in its construction unit, Terna, for 160 million euros in stock. Turnover topped 279 million. (Bloomberg, Kathimerini)

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