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MTel dividend generates Saint Nicholas rally

Magyar Telekom's share value jumped 6.72% after the company's board announced that it would propose payment of a belated Ft 73-per-share dividend on 2005 profits, while fellow BÉT Big Four issuers OTP and Mol also posted significant gains, lifting the Budapest Stock Exchange's (BÉT) blue-chip BUX index to a sharp Tuesday advance of 614.43 points to 23,557.27.

The BUX confuted dismal forecasts of mere coal and twig in the boots of BSE investors on Saint Nicholas morn, advancing 2.68% on a composite exchange turnover of Ft 28.93 billion (€113.41 million). The BUX recorded a steady, 575.38-point, rise from an intra-session low of 22,981.89 just after morning bell to an intra-session high at the index's closing mark of 23,557.27. The mid-cap BUMIX index also closed well higher on Tuesday, advancing 29.02 points, or 1.21%, to 2,417.72.

The BSE Big Four, which account for 90.27% of the BUX index's point value, stood as follows at Tuesday's closing bell: Magyar Telekom advanced 6.72% to Ft 985 on a turnover of Ft 4.07 billion. OTP Bank gained 3.27% to Ft 7,900 on an exchange-high turnover of Ft 13.15 billion. Oil and natural gas company Mol advanced 1.59% to Ft 21,995 on a turnover of Ft 4.81 billion. Drug company Gedeon Richter gained 0.98% to Ft 39,990 on a turnover of Ft 5.07 billion. The BSE Big Four generated 93.67% of the exchange's composite Tuesday turnover.

Of 11 BUX-listed issuers, eight gained on Tuesday, while two lost and one ended at the break-even mark. Other notable gainers at the BSE on Tuesday were BUX issuers Egis, FHB and Fotex, all of which rose over 2%, and Émász, which advanced 0.39% to another all-time closing high of Ft 19,425. István Zillich of Takarékbank remarked that the customary "Saint Nicholas Day Rally" at the BÉT took place after all, with Tuesday's robust turnover suggesting that local investors are full of holiday cheer. Zillich added that the resignation of Magyar Telekom CEO Elek Straub on Tuesday was apparently well received on the market.

The Takarékbank stock analyst attributed OTP's 3.27% Tuesday gain to general bullishness on regional banks and to OTP's announcement that it had acquired 72.75% of preference shares in Kulska banka, while submitting a public-purchase offer for at least 67% of the Serbian bank's ordinary shares. István Zillich ascribed Mol's rise to ÁPV's Tuesday announcement that it will auction 1.73 million of the company's shares not sold in a recent offer to domestic retail investors at the BÉT on Wednesday. Other major central and eastern European blue-chip stock indices also finished well higher on Tuesday, with Prague's PX-50 gaining 0.91% to an all-time closing high of 1,600.40 and Warsaw's WIG-20 advancing 2.14% to 3,395.46. (Mti-Eco)