LONDON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Italian banking shares surged again on Thursday bringing their three-day gains to 20 percent and putting them on track for the best week since at least 2009.
Italy's beleaguered banks extended their post-referendum recovery after the European Central Bank extended its asset purchases stoking a region-wide banking sector rally
The Italian banking index was last up more than 5 percent higher, with Banco Popolare di Milano and Banco Popolare up more than 7 and the top performing stocks on the STOXX 600 is afternoon trading.
Bearish bets on Italian banks put in place on expectations that a crushing defeat for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in a referendum on constitutional reform would spell trouble for the country's banks have been unwound in recent sessions.
Italy's third-biggest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena was last up 6.6 percent. The bank has asked the ECB for more time to wrap up a 5 billion euro ($5.4 billion) rescue plan that was thrown into doubt after Renzi said this week that would step down as Prime Minister. (Reporting by Atul Prakash, Editing by Vikram Subhedar)