Milan

Italian stock markets show strong gains, led by banks

Other European financial markets also rise

Italian stock markets show strong gains, led by banks

Milan, January 9 - Italian bank stocks surged on Wednesday, lifting the country's key financial market and leading those in the rest of Europe. On the Milan Stock Exchange, the FTSE Mib gained 2.21% to close at 17,326 points - its highest level in 17 months. The index was lifted by strong interest in telecommunications equities as well as an upbeat sentiment due to encouraging earnings on stock markets in the United States. But key to Wednesday's gains in Milan was the continued investor interest in banks shares. Overall, the financial-services sector has been on the rise over news that implementation of some Basel III liquidity standards have been delayed for four years and other requirements eased. Italian banks already meet the Basel III liquidity requirements, but the easing of rules has been generally positive for financial-sector stocks. Meanwhile, the spread between Italy's benchmark 10-year bond and its ultra-safe German counterpart closed at 282 basis points, roughly where it has lingered all week. At close of trading Wednesday, the yield on 10-year Italian paper stood at 4.29%, the same point as where it closed one day earlier. In other European markets, Frankfurt's DAX rose by 0.32% to reach 7,702.47 points, while London's FTSE 100 fell by 0.74% to close at 6,098.65 points, Paris's CAC 40 ended the day up by 0.25% to 3,715.02 points, and Spain's IBEX 35 ended the day 1.87% higher at 8,611.10 points.

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di Sebastiano Caspanello