Europe stock rally loses steam as Germany rejects Greek proposal
* FTSEurofirst 300 hits 7-year high before trimming gains
* Greek banking stocks still up 5.4 pct, extending recovery
* European profits up 23 pct excluding energy sector - data
By Blaise Robinson
PARIS, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Europe's stock rally lost steam on Thursday, with a benchmark index retreating from a seven-year high, after Germany rejected a new proposal from Athens for an extension of its bailout programme.
The German finance ministry described the Greek proposal as "not a substantial solution" because it failed to fulfill the conditions of an EU/IMF bailout programme. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had promised to ditch those requirements when he won an election last month.
With the programme due to expire in a little more than a week, Greece urgently needs to secure a financial lifeline to keep the country afloat beyond late March.
European stocks had rallied earlier in the session, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index climbing to as high as 1,522.25 points, a level not seen since late 2007, after Greece made its proposal for a six-month extension of the bailout.
But the benchmark index trimmed gains and ended 0.3 percent higher at 1,520.22 points. So far this year, the FTSEurofirst 300 has surged 11 percent, outpacing Wall Street's S&P 500 , up 2 percent over the same period. Continuación...