Stocks ended significantly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, helped by strong buying activity in bank shares.

    News of a return of the EC-ECB-IMF 'troika' officials in Athens on Thursday, paving the way for the release of the sixth tranche of a loan to Greece, encouraged sentiment in the market. The composite index rose 2.37 pct to end at 809.94 points, with turnover rising slightly to 53.742 million euros.

    The Big Cap index jumped 3.44 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.39 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 1.41 pct. Alpha Bank (12.7 pct), Eurobank (10.11 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (9.09 pct), Piraeus Bank (6.52 pct) and National Bank (6.32 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (4.0 pct) and PPC (0.17 pct) were losers.

    The Insurance (7.14 pct), Banks (6.51 pct) and Raw Materials (4.73 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Health (18.61 pct) and Financial Services (0.90 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 81 to 58 with another 37 issues unchanged. Alpha Bank (12.7 pct), Vovos (11.43 pct) and Eurobank (10.11 pct) were top gainers, while Health (25 pct), Neorio (20 pct) and Sfakianakis (10 pct) were top losers.