STOCKS NEWS EUROPE-Greece,Germany top euro zone performers in Q3

The benchmark indexes of Greece and Germany - generally perceived as the euro zone's riskiest and safest equity markets, respectively - were the region's top performers in the third quarter as investors sentiment improved sharply.

The Athens-based ATG index jumped 21 percent in its best quarterly showing since 2009, while Germany's DAX added 12.5 percent.

Risk appetite has improved in the past three months after the ECB pledged to stand by the euro and unveiled its plan to bring down sovereign borrowing costs through bond purchases. The pledge of fresh quantitative easing stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve also helped.

Implied volatility on EuroSTOXX 50, seen as a crude barometer of risk aversion , fell 6 percent in the quarter. For investors already betting on Europe, the improved risk picture was the excuse to step up risk and try investing in peripheral countries. But for others it was the catalyst to dip their toes back into previously shunned Europe, choosing the safer bets within the region such as Germany or the Nordics.

Underscoring the two-tier performance, Spain and Italy , seen as potential targets for ECB's bond buying rescue plan, also fared well, but so did the Scandinavian indexes which have enjoyed a safe-haven status, thanks to their place outside of the crisis-hit euro zone.

Reuters messaging rm://antonina.vorobyova.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net

Keywords: MARKETS EUROPE STOCKSNEWS