ECONOMY

Stocks surpass 1,600 pts

Greek stocks jumped more than 2 percent higher yesterday, as lenders propelled the general index above 1,600 points on news of Piraeus Bank’s offer to merge with two state-owned peers. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index gained 2.22 percent to 1,608.76 points, bouncing back from a session high of 1,622 points. Banks surged 6.53 percent. News of the Piraeus offer to buy stakes in Hellenic Postbank and ATEbank fueled talk of possible counteroffers from competitors and further takeover activity appearing in the sector. National Bank moved 5.62 percent higher to 10.90 euros and peer Alpha rose 6.74 percent to 4.91 euros. Eurobank also performed strongly, rising 7.19 percent to 4.77 euros. Buying in banks rubbed off on large-cap stocks as the blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index advanced 3.58 percent to 781.16 points. Cement maker Titan rose 2.92 percent to 17.60 euros and construction company Ellaktor moved 3.34 percent higher to 3.40 euros. Hellenic Exchanges also saw in increase, adding 3.58 percent to 4.92 euros. Turnover rose to 163.5 million euros versus 85 million euros in the previous session.