Banks lead Europe shares up as Greece triggers aid

* FTSEurofirst 300 index rises 0.8 percent

* Banks up as Greece asks for activation of aid package

* Volvo, Ericsson soar after results

* For up-to-the minute market news, click on [STXNEWS/EU]

By Brian Gorman

LONDON, April 23 (BestGrowthStock) – European shares were up at
midday on Friday, with banking stocks rebounding after Greek
Prime Minister George Papandreou asked for the activation of an
EU/IMF aid package to pull the country out of its debt crisis.

At 1105 GMT, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3: )
index of top shares was up 0.8 percent at 1,092.95 points, after
two days of declines. The index is up more than 69 percent from
its lifetime low of March 9, 2009.

Some analysts were still cautious and said the market was
set to fall.

“Sentiment has improved with Greece biting the bullet. But
it’s a fairly marginal decision,” said Jeremy Batstone-Carr,
strategist at Charles Stanley in London.

“The IMF and EU can cobble 45 billion euros together, and
resolve Greece’s short-term financing issues. But the key issue
is Spain and whether it can hold the line on sovereign debt.

“Equity valuations using 10-year smoothed calculations are
now one standard deviation above the historical average.
Something’s got to give.”

Greece asked the European Union (EU) and the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday to activate its package of 45
bilion euros ($60.5 billion) in emergency loans in what cold be
the largest state bailout ever attempted. [ID:nLDE63M0XZ]

Banking stocks reversed the previous session’s sharp losses.
The sector struggled on Thursday after Eurostat said Greece’s
budget deficit was worse than feared and Moody’s downgraded the
country’s sovereign rating.

Greek banking stocks (.FTATBNK: ) rose 4.9 percent. Other
banks to gain included Banco Santander (SAN.MC: ), HSBC (HSBA.L: )
and Lloyds (LLOY.L: ), up between 0.9 and 2 percent.

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L: ) gained for the seventh
session in the last eight, was up 3.1 percent after Barclays
Capital upgraded it to “overweight” and more than doubled its
price target.

Miners were in favour, recovering from the previous two
sessions’ sharp losses. Anglo American (AAL.L: ), Lonmin (LMI.L: ),
Fresnillo (FRES.L: ) and Rio Tinto (RIO.L: ) rose between 1 and 2.3
percent.

Across Europe, Britain’s the FTSE 100 (.FTSE: ), Germany’s DAX
(.GDAXI: ) and France’s CAC 40 (.FCHI: ) rose between 0.7 and 1.3
percent.

VOLVO SOARS

The market was also given support by strong earnings news,
with two Swedish companies among the most impressive risers.

Truck maker Volvo (VOLVb.ST: ) surged 11.2 percent after
first-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.)s beat expectations. [ID:nLDE63M04Y]

Ericsson (ERICb.ST: ) rose 7.5 percent as analysts focused on
strong margin growth as a sign of better times ahead for the
mobile telecom gear maker after it undershot estimates for
first-quarter profit (Read more your timing to make a profit.). [ID:nLDE63M0PP]

The sector was badly hit on Thursday after Nokia (NOK1V.HE: )
results disappointed.

Chemical stocks were in demand. Dutch group Akzo Nobel
(AKZO.AS: ) gained 5.8 percent after it posted a
better-than-expected 38 percent rise in first-quarter core
profit.

In other individual stocks, sporting goods maker Adidas
(ADSG.DE: ) rose 4.1 percent after it lifted its full-year profit
outlook and reported better-than-expected first-quarter results.

L’Oreal (OREP.PA: ) rose 2.7 percent. The French cosmetics
firm pledged to improve its results this year after
first-quarter sales beat forecasts and marked a clear return to
growth.

On the downside, SES (SESFd.PA: ) shares fell 3.5 percent
after the world’s second-largest satellite operator cut its 2010
growth forecast and reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter
figures.

The UK economy grew 0.2 percent in the first quarter, the
Office for National Statistics said, less than the 0.4 percent
analysts had forecast. [ID:nONS004958]

Investors will look at U.S. economics data later, including
March durable goods orders and new home sales.

Stock Research

($1=.7439 Euro)
(Editing by Karen Foster)

Banks lead Europe shares up as Greece triggers aid