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Greek stocks outperform Europe with longest winning run since 1991


[MILAN] Greek stocks rose for a 12th straight day on Wednesday, the longest run of gains since 1991, outperforming broadly flat European markets as Athens looked set to clinch vital bailout loans.

While the pan-European Stoxx 600 index edged up 0.2 per cent and the euro zone Stoxx index closed flat, Greek's main equity index rose 1.8 per cent.

The gains brought Athens' benchmark index close to erasing all the losses it made after reopening following an emergency five-week bourse closure in the summer of 2015.

The biggest risers were refiner Motor Oil and National Bank of Greece, up 4.8 and 2.4 per cent respectively. The increases came as Greek government borrowing costs hit their lowest level in more than five year.

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Elsewhere in Europe, some solid earnings updates and gains among commodity-related stocks on the back of rising crude oil prices provided support.

With the European earnings season more than halfway through, financials are among the strongest performers so far, with almost 70 per cent of those financial firms which have reported beating expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data.

Overall, more than 71 per cent of European firms have beaten earnings expectations.

Shares in Belgian hygiene products maker Ontex rose 3.6 per cent after the firm reported higher revenue in all of its five divisions.

Well-received earnings boosted shares in French energy firm Rubis, which jumped 6.3 per cent to hit a record high. A better than expected earnings update at A2A lifted shares in Italy's biggest regional utility up 5.4 per cent, But HeidelbergCement fell 1.2 per cent after the cement maker reported its first-quarter operating profit slipped 3 per cent as a decline in emerging markets failed to offset a significant rise in Europe and North America.

Banks were mixed with BPER Banca falling 5.7 per cent after its first-quarter net profit halved as a result of the writedown of its stake in Italian bank rescue fund Atlante.

"The main share price driver for BPER remains excess capital... and its use. Little has changed on this front with this set of results as there was no news on strategy," analysts at UBS said in a note.

Traders cited worries BPER might may end up buying fellow Italian lender Unipol Banca, hurting its core capital.

ING rose 1.5 per cent after its first-quarter underlying pre-tax profit came in ahead of expectations.

Deutsche Bank rose 0.9 per cent with a trader citing a Bloomberg report saying Qatar had asked German regulators to allow it to lift its stake in the bank above 10 per cent. Two financial sources denied the report.