Europe Markets

European Shares Post Best Week of 2012 with Reuters

European shares posted their best weekly gain so far this year after rising for a fifth day on Friday, boosted by strong German data and growing expectations Greece will soon get the next dose of financial help.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index provisionally closed 0.6 percent higher at 1,110.08 points, taking its gains for the week to 4 percent.

Germany's BASF and Bayer led a rally in chemical stocks after a German surprised with its first rise in seven months, raising the prospect that Europe's largest economy can regain some momentum.

The German Dax index provisionally closed 0.8 percent higher, after initially opening lower.

Another strong performer was technology company Outotec, which provisionally closed 9 percent higher on Friday, after the firm issued increased sales targets for 2013.

Investors also welcomed suggestions by the Greek government that the country's lenders were coming on the next tranche of aid, sending euro zone banks and the euro higher in the afternoon. However, Greece still needs to plug a 10 billion euro ($12.9 billion) gap to gain the International Monetary Fund's approval.

"Market sentiment is positive," said a trader in Milan, adding that people were betting on a deal on Greek support at a meeting on Monday.

"I saw a few small buys from domestic funds on quality banks like Intesa Sanpaolo or underperformers like Banca Popolare di Milano, which is most interesting with a view to a rebound."

Popolare di Milano rose 1.1 percent and Intesa closed up 1 percent, with the former extending a bounce from a three-month trough hit on Wednesday.