July proved to be the second-best month in the last five years for the local stock market, with the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) posting gains of 17.27 percent from the end of June. The ATHEX general index starts the new week today at 1,681.98 points, 5.75 percent higher than the 1,590.50-point level a week earlier. Banks led gainers on the bourse last week, with their sectoral index climbing 7.64 percent for the week and 35.33 percent over the entire month of July. This came on the back of a number of reports and rumors regarding further concentration in the local banking market, but traders warn that if the international atmosphere deteriorates or expectations are dashed, the hedge funds involved in this rally are unlikely to think twice before making a sharp exit. However, the market is right in expecting local lenders to proceed to strengthening their capital adequacy. Average turnover last week grew to 139.3 million euros per day from 100.6 million during the previous week.