European shares rise to seven-year high on hopes for a Greek deal
* FTSEurofirst 300 rises to set new seven-year high
* Greek shares lead gains, Athens to submit loan request
* Ct. Agricole rallies after profits beat forecasts
By Francesco Canepa
LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Greek stocks helped push a key pan-European equity index to a seven-year high on Wednesday, on expectations that Athens would reach an agreement with its international lenders.
Greek shares climbed 1 percent after Greece's government confirmed it would ask on Wednesday for an extension to its loan agreement with the euro zone. Shares in Greek banks rose sharply.
The new Greek government had refused to seek an extension of a bailout by the European Union and International Monetary Fund, which is due to expire on Feb. 28, because of the austerity policies the bailout imposes. It also wants to renegotiate Greece's debts separately.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.5 percent to 1,512.74 points going into the middle of the trading session, its highest since early 2008.
The euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index also rose 0.6 percent. Germany's DAX rose by a similar amount to put it near the DAX's earlier record highs. Continuación...