MILAN, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Shares in Italian lender UniCredit rose further on Thursday, hitting their highest since January 2016 and cementing their lead as top-performing euro zone bank stock of 2023.
UniCredit had gained 1.3% by 0756 GMT, bringing year-to-date gains to 74%, comfortably making it the best performer within the euro STOXX bank index, followed by two other Italian lenders, BPER Banca and Banco BPM, which are up 55 and 37%, respectively year to date.
Giving further impetus to UniCredit's rally was the bank's surprise announcement on Wednesday to bring forward up to 2.5 billion euros of its 2023 share buyback plan.
"This move comes largely unexpected and sends a message of confidence about the next few months despite the uncertain outlook: we expect UCG will continue to outperform in the near to medium term," wrote Deutsche Bank analysts in a note.
Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Amanda Cooper