ECONOMY

Stocks gain ground on bank lead

Advancing European markets helped to push the Athens bourse higher yesterday after local investor sentiment received a boost from National Bank’s oversubscribed share capital increase and narrowing spreads on Greek government bonds. The Athens bourse’s benchmark general index gained 2.53 percent to 1,581.69 points, ending close to a session high of 1,589 points. The blue chip FTSE/ATHEX 20 index added 3.12 percent to 778.52 points. Banks rose 4.36 percent, as National jumped 5.41 percent to 8.58 euros. Buyers also turned to Alpha Bank, which rose 4.53 percent to 5.54 euros, and Bank of Cyprus which ended at 4 euros, up 4.71 percent. Shares in power company PPC also performed well, rising 3.85 percent to 11.86 euros. National Securities reiterated yesterday its outperform rating on PPC, citing its attractive valuation and lower wage costs. The brokerage lowered its target price on PPC stocks to 17.30 euros, from 18 euros previously, implying possible gains of 45 percent. Betting company OPAP advanced 1.20 percent to 11.82 euros. Turnover reached 180.4 million euros versus 109 million in the previous session.