Banks lead in solid stock gains

Greek stocks showed solid gains yesterday on the back of a 5 percent jump in banks, with investors taking positions in the sector ahead of possible merger activity next month, brokers said. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index added 2.81 percent to 1,678.06 points after advancing by as much as 3.5 percent in mid-session trade. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index increased by 3.68 percent to 823.60 points. Buyers turned to banks, sending Eurobank 7.41 percent higher to 5.80 euros and Alpha to 5.99 euros, up 7.93 percent. National Bank also gained, climbing 4.35 percent to 10.79 euros, while Piraeus Bank rose 3.02 percent to 4.78 euros. Fourlis, the Greek franchise holder of furniture maker IKEA, dipped 0.63 percent to 7.95 euros. Earlier, Piraeus Securities lowered its target price on the stock to 7.70 euros from 8.10 euros, due to an expected drop in second-quarter profit. The brokerage house expects Fourlis to show a loss of 2 million euros versus an 8.5-million-euro profit in the same period a year earlier. Turnover reached 78.9 million euros versus 49 million euros previously.