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19.01.2012 19:20

European stocks close:

European stocks gained for a fourth day, extending a five-month high for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as Spain and France sold bonds at lower yields and fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for jobless benefits.

France auctioned 7.97 billion euros of two-, three- and four-year notes in its first sale of medium- and long-term debt after losing its AAA rating at Standard & Poor’s last week. Yields fell on all maturities.

Spain sold 6.6 billion euros of bonds maturing in 2016, 2019 and 2022 today, compared with a maximum target for the sale of 4.5 billion euros. The yields on the 2022 and 2019 securities declined, while the 2016 borrowing costs increased.

In the U.S., initial jobless-benefit claims plunged by 50,000 to 352,000 in the week ended Jan. 14, the lowest level since April 2008, Labor Department figures showed. The median forecast of 41 economists in a Bloomberg News survey had projected a reading of 384,000.

Bank of America Corp., the second-largest U.S. lender, swung to a fourth-quarter profit as the company sold assets and built capital faster than expected.

National benchmark indexes rose in all of Europe’s 18 western markets, except Iceland. France’s CAC 40 increased 2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.7 percent, while Germany’s DAX Index (DAX) climbed 1 percent.

Commerzbank surged 15 percent to 1.62 euros, the biggest jump since October. Germany’s second-largest lender said the measures it can take to boost capital or reduce the equivalent in risk-weighted assets by June 30 total 6.3 billion euros, outstripping the 5.3 billion euros required by the European Banking Authority.

BNP Paribas SA jumped 8.2 percent to 34.70 euros while Deutsche Bank AG rallied 8.4 percent to 32.48 euros. Barclays Plc gained 10 percent to 221.35 pence and UBS AG, Switzerland’s biggest bank, gained 8.1 percent to 12.57 francs as Morgan Stanley named them all among its “most preferred” bank stocks.

Alstom jumped 14 percent to 28.15 euros, the biggest gain since 2008. The company said it has more than 1 billion euros of announced contracts yet to be booked in its fiscal year, which runs through March.

Porsche SE rose 8.3 percent to 47.10 euros after Manager Magazin reported that the German sports-car maker offered to settle claims by U.S. investors tied to its failed takeover attempt for Volkswagen AG in 2008. Porsche made the offer dependent on the investors waiving possible new claims in the future, the magazine reported.

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