European Markets at Close Report on February 19, 2015: European stocks end higher as Greek debt drama persists | MarketWatch.

European stocks end higher as Greek debt drama persists




LONDON (MarketWatch) — European stocks finished higher Thursday, but spent much of the session swinging between gains and losses amid the latest twists in Greece’s debt drama.
The Stoxx Europe 600 SXXP, +0.27%  closed up 0.3% at 381.41. The index had fallen after Germany said Greece’s request for a six-month loan extension doesn’t represent “a substantial proposal for a solution.”
Greece has been making a distinction between a loan agreement and the 240-billion-euro ($273 billion) bailout program, which is set to end later this month. Germany argued the Greek request doesn’t meet the bailout requirements and said the proposal only aims at getting bridging financing.
The Stoxx 600 early Thursday had been down by as much as 0.8%, but turned higher after Greece submitted the loan request, even as it made clear it wouldn’t accept all the strict austerity measures required under its bailout program. Eurozone finance ministers, known as the Eurogroup, were expected to review the proposal on Friday.
Greece’s Athex Composite GD, +1.06%  also seesawed throughout the session, but finished up 1.1% at 856.50. Greek banking stocks held to gains, with National Bank of Greece SA ETE, +7.14%  tacking on 7.1% and Alpha Bank AE ALPHA, +6.41%   climbing 6.4%. Piraeus Bank SA TPEIR, +4.48%  moved 4.5% higher and Eurobank Ergasias SA EUROB, +2.56% gained 2.6%.
The euro EURUSD, -0.25%  fell to $1.1389 from late Wednesday’s level of $1.1398. It was largely unchanged after the release of minutes from the European Central Bank’s policy meeting last month. The minutes showed concerns about persistent low inflation prompted officials to approve a larger-than-expected bond-purchase plan.
Energy stocks: The Stoxx 600 oil and gas group SXEP, -1.96%  remainded down 2%, even as crude-oil futures CLH5, -2.53% pared losses after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported an increase of 7.7 million in weekly crude supplies. Oil prices had slid below $50 a barrel after data released late Wednesday by the American Petroleum Institute showed supplies jumped 14.3 million barrels, outstripping an increase of 3.1 million expected in a Platts poll of analysts.
Among energy plays, exploration and production company Premier Oil PLCPMO, -4.94%  fell 4.9%, Norway’s Statoil ASA STL, -3.34%  lost 3.3% and Norwegian seabed-to-surface engineering contractor Subsea 7 SA SUBC, -3.75%  dropped 3.8%.
Shares of oil producer Tullow Oil PLC TLW, -2.66%  lost 2.7%, a move that helped push down the U.K.’s FTSE 100 UKX, -0.13% It slipped 0.1% to 6,888.90. Centrica PLCCNA, -8.54%  shares skidded 8.5%, also pulling down the benchmark, after a downbeat financial update from the parent company of British Gas.
Among other major national benchmarks, Germany’s DAX DAX, -0.07%  added 0.4% to close at a record 11,001.94. France’s CAC PX1, +0.71% rose 0.7% to 4,833.28.
Movers: Adidas AG ADS, +4.55%  shares jumped 5% as the German athleticwear maker said it has begun searching for a successor to Chief Executive Herbert Hainer. Hainer has served as CEO since 2001.
Air France-KLM SA AF, -5.02%  shares fell 5% after Europe’s largest carrier said it will scale back its investment plans by €600 million ($680 million) over the next two years.
Rexam PLC REX, +6.05%  shares gained 6.1% after the company agreed to be acquired by rival U.S. drinks-can maker Ball Corp. BLL, -3.45%  in a deal that values the British company at £4.4 billion ($6.8 billion).


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