Milan bourse leads gains as Cyprus worries fade

European markets perform well except for London

Milan bourse leads gains as Cyprus worries fade

Milan, March 20 - Most of the main European stock markets returned to the black after three consecutive days of losses Wednesday as worries over a stalled Cyprus bailout eased and investors looked ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy decisions. Trading on the Cyprus stock exchange was suspended for a second day as politicians hurriedly tried to put together a second bailout proposal after an EU offer which called for banks to tax deposits was rejected. Italy's financials-heavy FTSE-MIB index led the European gains, closing up 2.2% at 16,015.98, helped by banking stocks. Leading gainers in the financials was BPM, up 11.11%, which posted positive fourth-quarter results and whose restructuring plan was greeted with enthusiasm by the market. Bper closed up 5.86%, followed by Banco Popolare (+4.49%), Mediobanca (+4.73%), Intesa Sanpaolo (+3.43%) and UniCredit (+3.95%). Italian media giant Mediaset also ended the day on a high (+5.51%) after Goldman Sachs raised its view on the stock to ''neutral'' from ''sell''. France's CAC 40 followed, gaining 1.43% at 3,829.56, while Spain's IBEX 35 went up 1.15% at 8,416.30. Germany's DAX trailed gainers edging up 0.68% to close at 8,001.97. London FTSE 100 ended the day slightly lower (-0.13% at 6,432.70) after Chancellor George Osborne warned of risks that the country's economy would grow much less than previously expected. Meanwhile, the spread between Italy's 10-year government bond and the German equivalent - an important indicator of investors' confidence in the Italian economy - dropped Wednesday, closing at 324 basis points from Tuesday's 337 points.

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