European Stocks Advance as Euro-Area Ministers Discuss Greece

European stocks extended a seven-year high as Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis faced his euro-area counterparts in Brussels to seek an agreement that will let Europe’s most-indebted country avoid default.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.2 percent to 382.27 at the close of trading, for a 1.4 percent weekly gain. The gauge is up for a third week, its longest streak since the beginning of December. The ASE Index lost 0.3 percent, erasing an earlier rise, after Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said Germany and its allies are ready to let Greece leave the euro unless Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepts the conditions required to extend his country’s financial support.

The Stoxx 600 has surged 12 percent this year, even as volatility has increased after Greece elected a new government that is now renegotiating the terms of its aid package. The VStoxx Index, which tracks expectations for equity swings, has had a daily average of about 25.4 in 2015. That’s 40 percent greater than in 2014.

An agreement on extending Greece’s bailout program, which expires at the end of February, appears unlikely, leading to more talks on Sunday or Monday, a European Union official said. A preliminary round was “very difficult,” Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup, told reporters.

Source: Bloomberg

MARKET