European Stocks Jittery as Greek Debt Drama Drags on

European Stocks Jittery as Greek Debt Drama Drags on

Europe's main stock markets diverge as investors reacted to mixed corporate news and awaited the next moves concerning Greece.

Europe's main stock markets diverged Wednesday as investors reacted to mixed corporate news and awaited the next moves concerning Greece.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index ended the day down 0.49% to 7,028.24 points, while the CAC 40 in Paris finished 0.36% higher at 5,211.09 points.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 index fell 0.60% to 11,867.37 points despite the German government raising its 2015 growth forecast to 1.8%.

Milan added 0.32% while Madrid shed 0.20%.

The Euro slid to $1.0728, compared with $1.0735 late in New York on Tuesday.

"Investor sentiment was dampened by the overhanging concerns regarding Greece's debt crisis as officials on both sides struggle to make meaningful progress," said analyst Kash Kamal at Sucden Financial Research.

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Markets were looking ahead to the end of the week, when Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Latvia's capital Riga.

Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem offered a glimmer of hope on the negotiations with Athens on Tuesday, saying some progress had been made, with the EU pressing Athens to detail a program of acceptable reforms by Friday.

With Greek government coffers rapidly emptying, analysts warn Athens may have only weeks left before defaulting and possibly exiting the Euro unless it reaches a deal with the EU and IMF to unlock 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout loans.

But Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis downplayed the chances of a breakthrough in Riga, though he expressed confidence in eventually reaching a deal.

"This Eurogroup is informal and will last around two or two-and-a-half hours, and no Eurogroup decides on something so important in such a short meeting," he told Greek media late on Tuesday.

However he said he hopes the meeting "will be an important step in advancing the negotiations," and that "very soon we'll be able to talk about reforms that will be the backbone of a new growth program."

The Athens stock exchange traded as much as 3% lower, before picking up after the ECB stepped up its support for Greek banks to close with a 2.1 percent gain.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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