Greek deal optimism pushes European shares to 7-year high
* FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.4 pct, sets fresh 7-yr high
* Greek shares lead gains as Athens seen asking for loan extension
* Agricole rallies after profit beat
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Greek stocks helped push a key pan-European share index to a seven-year high on Wednesday on fresh optimism that Athens would reach an agreement with its international lenders.
Greek stocks rose 3 percent after a source close to the government said Greece intends to ask on Wednesday for an extension for up to six months of a loan agreement with the euro zone, on conditions to be negotiated. A Greek government spokesman later confirmed the move.
Shares in Italy and Spain, heavily indebted countries that are seen as coming under market pressure if Greece were to leave the euro zone, outperformed. Italy's FTSE MIB was up 0.9 percent and Spain's Ibex rose 0.7 percent.
"Everyone is buying the ones that are most affected," Mike Reuter, a trader at Tradition, said.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.4 percent to 1,510.75 points, having set a fresh seven-year high at 1,512.63 points in early deals. Continuación...