Shares soar on hopes for a eurozone rescue plan

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Last Updated at 19:56 GMT

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Global shares have risen strongly on growing hopes that eurozone leaders and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will agree a comprehensive package to solve the eurozone debt crisis.

Led by banking stocks, France's Cac index ended up 5.7%, Germany's Dax 5.3% and the UK's FTSE 4%.

The optimism follows after talks at G20 and IMF meetings at the weekend.

A number of ideas were reportedly discussed, including boosting the size of the eurozone bailout fund.

The FTSE's rise was the biggest one-day gain since 10 May 2010 and added £53bn to the index.

The main US share index, the Dow Jones, also rose, up 1.3% at close.

Earlier, Asian stocks had also risen, with Japan's main Nikkei index ending up 2.8%.

Strengthening banks?

The increased optimism comes despite European Union officials stressing that no grand plan of action was agreed at the weekend.

Investors are instead focusing on what was reportedly proposed at the meetings, which is also said to have included strengthening big European banks that could be hit by any defaults on national debt obligations.

Another reported proposal is a possible 50% write-down of Greek government debts.

However, late on Monday German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cast doubt on the suggestion that the eurozone bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility could be increased.

He said: "We are giving it the tools so it can work if necessary. Then we will use it effectively, but we do not have the intention of boosting its volume."

On Thursday, Germany will vote on whether to approve proposals set out in July to extend the powers of the EFSF that would allow it to buy the bonds of highly-indebted countries, and to make credit available to both governments and under-capitalised banks.

Banking stocks were among the biggest risers across Europe. In France, Societe Generale ended up 16.8%, BNP Paribas 14.2%, Credit Agricole 13.1% and Natixis 11.3%.

In Germany, Deutsche Bank rose 16.6% and Commerzbank by 12.6%. In the UK, Barclays added 8% and Royal Bank of Scotland 6.1%.

Oil prices also rose, as fears eased about the extent to which the eurozone debt crisis could affect the global economy.

US light crude was up $2.25 to $82.49 a barrel, while Brent crude added $1.45 to $105.39.

The spot price of gold rose 2.5% to $1,672, but analysts said this was led by the US dollar falling in value, thereby making the previous metal slightly more affordable for holders of other currencies.

Meanwhile, the euro strengthened against the dollar, rising to $1.3628 from $1.3523 late on Monday.

Keith Bowman, markets analyst at financial services group Hargreaves Lansdown, cautioned that the rise in share prices may prove shortlived.

"The optimists have taken the forefront on hopes that we could see European politicians getting to grips with the current situation over the coming weeks," he said.

"But there are still a lot of concerns. Investors remain sceptical about the success of the measures being planned to resolve the eurozone credit crisis."

Greek discussions

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou - whose country is at the epicentre of eurozone debt concerns - has held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday to discuss his country's progress in cutting its budget deficit.

He earlier delivered a speech to German business leaders, urging them to help his country out of its current debt crisis.

He said German funding would not be an investment in past failures, but in future successes.

Mr Papandreou's meeting with Ms Merkel comes as policymakers decide whether to release the latest tranche of Greek bailout funds.

The European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are due in Athens this week to review Greece's progress in cutting its debt levels.

Together, they will decide on whether to release the latest tranche of bailout funds the Greek government needs to pay its bills.

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