The Athens Stock Exchange was the best performer among Europe’s main stock markets in January, followed by the markets of Nicosia, Milan and Madrid, while it was also the best performer among the world’s 80 largest markets, with a monthly advance of 12.69 pct.

The Greek market discounted an urgent and general solution to the Eurozone’s debt crisis.

The rally began in mid-January when a Eurogroup meeting, on Jan. 17, left the door open for a significant strengthening of a European Financial Support Fund. Final decisions are likely to be taken at an EU summit in March 25, or during an urgent summit in early March.

Also, favourable tax changes, such as reducing a tax on non-distributed earnings from 24 pct to 20 pct and replacing a 40-pct tax on distributed earnings with a 25-pct withholding tax, contributed to the positive climate on the Athens bourse.

The Big Cap index rose 11.70 pct in January, the Mid Cap index was up 8.4 pct and the Small Cap index ended 12.3 pct up. The market’s capitalization grew by 7.792 billion euros to 62.727 billion euros.

ETEM (82.4 pct), Foodlink (64.2 pct), Alco (61.1 pct), Athina (60 pct), Korinth Pipes (59.1 pct), Fieratex (50 pct), Halcor (46.8 pct), Elval (41.2 pct), Sprider (40.7 pct) and Mihaniki (39.4 pct) were top gainers, while Euroholdings (37.5 pct), Elbisco (36.1 pct), CPI (35.9 pct), Petzetakis (35 pct), Xylemporia (31 pct), Paperpack (30.6 pct), Nutriart (29.2 pct) and Atlantic (23.5 pct) were major losers.

Only three blue chip stocks ended lower in January (Piraeus Bank 14.1 pct, Titan 5.9 pct and Marfin Popular Bank 1.6 pct), while Thessaloniki Port (31.1 pct), Sidenor (26.4 pct), Duty Free Shops (22.1 pct), Terna Energy (17.4 pct) and Hellenic Exchanges (14.3 pct) were major gainers.

All sector indices, with the exception of the Insurance index (down 7.7 pct), moved higher in January, led by Industrial Products (12.3 pct), Commerce (22 pct), Oil/Gas (20.6 pct), Raw Materials (23 pct), Travel (12.5 pct), Telecoms (23 pct), Banks (10.7 pc) and Chemicals (16.3 pct).