European stocks advance amid speculation of Greek loan agreement

European stocks advanced amid investor speculation that Greece and its euro-area creditors may reach a compromise agreement on its bailout.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.3 percent to 378.14 at 8:05 a.m. in London. Stocks were little changed on Tuesday as a rise in makers of food and drinks offset a drop in Greek equities.

Greece may request an extension of its loan agreement for six months, according to a person familiar with the matter. Such a move would ease a standoff with creditors over the country’s future financing.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government intends to make the request Wednesday, the person told reporters in Brussels, asking not to be named as the deliberations are private. Talks are continuing between Greece and its international creditors on the conditions that would be attached to the extension of the loan accord, the person said.

A Greek government official said in an e-mail response to the news that Greece will not accept ultimatums, and won’t ask for an extension to the bailout program. Rather, it is examining the possibility of asking for an extension to the loan agreement, which it differentiates from the existing program terms, the official said.

Among stocks moving on corporate news, PSA Peugeot Citroen rose 3.7 percent. The carmaker posted its first annual profit in three years after slashing costs.

Vivendi SA gained 1.1 percent. The French company received an offer of 3.9 billion euros ($4.4 billion) for its 20 percent stake in Numericable-SFR from the cable company and Altice France.

Carlsberg A/S climbed 1.8 percent after the world’s fourth- biggest brewer named a new chief executive officer.

Credit Agricole SA advanced 2.6 percent. France’s third- largest bank posted fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates on higher earnings at the investment bank and lower provisions for doubtful loans. [Bloomberg]