* FTSEurofirst 300 up 1.1 percent, Athens’s ATG up 9 pct
* Germany’s DAX index hits record high
* Santander, BP rise after results
By Atul Prakash and Blaise Robinson
LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose on Tuesday to just below a seven-year high, lifted by hopes a standoff over Greece’s debt would be resolved after its new government softened calls for a writedown.
Athens’ benchmark index ATG climbed 9 percent, with the country’s banking index surging nearly 18 percent. National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank and Eurobank rose 15.1 to 21.8 percent.
Shares in other southern European markets also outperformed, with Spain’s IBEX gaining 2.3 percent and Italy’s MIB up 2.1 percent. The FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 1.1 percent at 1,484.45 points by 1144 GMT, while Germany’s DAX up 1.1 percent, hit a fresh record high.
“The market is currently hoping that Greek negotiations of bailout terms will run quite smoothly. There are some signs that there might be a compromise in the making and there will not be any kind of default,” Gerhard Schwarz, head of equity strategy at Baader Bank in Munich, said.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, in London to reassure private investors that he was not seeking a showdown with Brussels over a new debt agreement, said the new left-wing government would spare privately-held bonds from losses, a source told Reuters.
“Varoufakis is striking a more conciliatory tone with international creditors, offering to swap the debt, which is positive,” said John Plassard, senior equity sales trader at Mirabaud Securities in Geneva.
“Overall, the big trend on the market since late December is a clear preference for European stocks over U.S. stocks, and the negative newsflow has had a low impact on Europe at the moment.”
Spain’s Santander featured among the top gainers, rising 3.5 percent after the euro zone’s biggest bank reported a nearly 70 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit, lifted by earnings from its lending business and as charges on soured loans fell.
Commodity stocks also rallied, supported by a sharp rise in metals and crude oil prices. The STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas index rose 3.6 percent, while the European basic resources index gained 3 percent.
BP gained 2.7 percent, having also beaten profit expectations for the fourth quarter. Although it took a $3.6 billion impairment charge and cut capital expenditure due to low oil prices, it maintained its quarterly dividend. (editing by John Stonestreet)