European stocks rise on Greek aid talk

By Grace Wong, contributing writer


LONDON (CNNMoney.com) -- European shares held gains early Friday following news that Greece may soon be getting the aid it so desperately needs.

In morning trading, Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.77%. The CAC 40 in France gained 0.42% and Germany's DAX jumped 1.2%. Markets had been slightly higher ahead of the news from Greece, lifted by encouraging economic news from Germany.

A report showing the business climate in Germany improving for a second month in a row lifted sentiment in the region.

The upbeat reading of the Ifo Business Climate survey in April helped offset earlier concerns about Greece's debt burden.

Early Friday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou formally asked for the activiation of the European Union/International Monetary Fund loan package.

Fears that Greece would miss its May 19 deadline for refinancing €8.5, or about $11.4 billion in debt, grew Thursday after Moody's cut its bond rating on Greece and a separate report showed that Greece's deficit may be worse than previously estimated.

The move sent Greek bond prices in a tailspin, raising the yield on the country's benchmark 10-year bond to a record of 8.8%. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. The yield on the Greek 10-year bond edged off its record highs following the news, dipping to 8.02%.

Worries that Greece might default on its debt have weighed on global markets in recent months. Investors fear that if that happens, Greece will be forced to seek a bailout.

Asian stocks fell back Friday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped nearly 1%. Japan's Nikkei ended the session 0.3% lower and the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5%.

U.S. stocks tumbled Thursday after Moody's downgraded Greece's bond rating but staged a comeback in the afternoon and managed to finish the session with slim gains. To top of page

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