LONDON (TheDeal) -- European ministers are unlikely to reach agreement on releasing Greek bailout funds at a meeting in the Latvian capital Riga later today, though Athens needs to fund debt repayments due next month. But European markets have so far taken a positive view that the meeting will help narrow the gap between Greece and its German-led partners. In part, that's thought due to pressure from Washington for Europe to do what it can to prevent Greece from turning to Vladimir Putin and Russia for alternative help. But the Europeans also know that a Greek default -- or an exit from the eurozone -- could have damaging knock-on effects for other weaker economies.
The FTSE 100 was up 0.56% mid-morning at 7,093.02, while in Paris the CAC 40 was up 0.73% at 5,216.57. In Frankfurt, the DAX was up 0.78% at 11,814.49.
In London, Europe's largest bank, HSBC Holdings (HSBC) - Get Report, was among the top risers after it announced a review of whether it should continue to keep its headquarters in the U.K. The bank's historic Hong Kong business is still a big profit center. HSBC has used the threat of a review in the past to put pressure on policy makers over banking regulation and taxation. The decision to go ahead with the review now, just two weeks from a closely fought general election could be a political bombshell, as all parties want to continue taxing banks and bankers, but some have been more aggressive than others. HSBC is up 2.83% at 629.5 pence.
U.K. defense contractor BAE Systems (BAESY) shot up 3.28% to 520.0 pence on news that it is considering a sale of businesses in the U.S. that provide technical and IT services to the American government. The company said it had received inquiries about the manpower and services businesses of its intelligence and security sector. But it said the review would not include the technology and product-focused geospatial intelligence business of I&S, or the group's cyber security and intelligence business, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.
But home electronics and cellphone retailer Dixons Carphone fell 0.6% to 434.2 pence on news that it is selling its second continental European business in as many weeks. The company said it is selling an 83% stake in Dutch mobile retailer The Phone House Netherlands to the shareholders of Optie 1, a local rival. Last week it announced the sale of a German unit, The Phone House Deutschland to German telco Drillisch (DRHKF) .
And consumer products group Reckitt Benckiser (RBGLY) also dipped 0.13% to 5,993.0 despite better-than-expected first-quarter sales, pushed up by its health care brands. Overall the company saw like-for-like sales up 5% compared with the same period last year, although its household goods brands have been struggling with competition from supermarket own-label goods.
In Stockholm, Swedish home appliances maker Electrolux (ELUXY) motored up 8% to Skr260.0, on strong European consumer demand for white goods in Western Europe, which was up 4% in the first quarter. Electrolux also said it had found an additional $50 million of synergies to add to the $300 million it initially expected from its $3.3 billion acquisition of the appliances unit of General Electric (GE) - Get Report, which was announced last fall.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed down 0.83% at 20,020.04, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng was up 0.84% at 29,060.98. In China, the Shanghai Composite finished the week down 0.47% at 4,393.69.