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Asian stocks rose for a second day after U.S. retail sales jumped and the Federal Reserve raised its assessment of the world’s biggest economy.
Shares pared gains after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said home prices are still too high.
Toyota Motor Corp. rose 2.1 % in Tokyo.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest miner, gained 1.3 % in Sydney after metal prices advanced.
Samsung Electronics Co. climbed 2.4 % in Seoul after saying it will supply screens for Apple Inc.’s new iPad.
Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd., a mainland developer, fell 3.2 %.
European stocks advanced to the highest level since July as the Federal Reserve raised its economic assessment of the world’s largest economy.
The Federal Open Market Committee said late yesterday that strains in global financial markets have eased and the labor market is gathering strength. At the same time, it said that the unemployment rate is “elevated” and “significant downside risks” remain. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is holding to his plan to the keep benchmark interest rate close to zero through at least 2014.
Greece’s credit rating was lifted out of the default category by Fitch Ratings on optimism that a debt swap will reduce the risk that the country eventually reneges on its obligations. Greece was raised four levels to B- from restricted default and given a stable outlook by Fitch. New government bonds have a B- rating, while debt that is not governed by Greek law has a C rating pending settlement on April 11, Fitch said.
Italy sold 6 billion euros of bonds today, with borrowing costs on its three-year debt falling to the lowest since October 2010 as European Central Bank loans helped boost demand. The Treasury sold 5 billion euros of a new three-year bond to yield 2.76 % and 1 billion euros of seven-year bonds at 4.3 %, meeting the 6 billion-euro maximum set for the sale.
National benchmark indexes rose in 15 of the 18 western European markets.
EON AG, Germany’s biggest utility, gained 7 % after it reported 2011 earnings that topped analysts’ estimates.
Gauges of European banks and insurers pulled the Stoxx 600 higher, with Credit Suisse rallying 5 % to 26.3 Swiss francs, and Legal & General advancing 7.2 % to 134.3 pence. Natixis SA added 5.2 % to 2.95 euros and Deutsche Bank AG gained 3.4 % to 38.17 euros.
Arkema fell 5 % to 69 euros. Investor Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA is offering 6.2 million shares of the company for as much as 450 million euros. The shares are being sold for about 69.90 euros each, according to a term sheet.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell, snapping a five-day advance, after the benchmark gauge for U.S. equities rallied to the highest level since June 2008.
After the close of trading yesterday, the Fed said 15 of 19 banks would be able to maintain capital levels above a regulatory minimum in an “extremely adverse” economic scenario, even while continuing to pay dividends and repurchasing stock.
Gold producers tumbled on speculation that an economic recovery will curb demand for the metal. Gold has surged since December 2008 as the Fed held U.S. borrowing costs at a record low and bought $2.3 trillion in housing and government debt during two rounds of so-called quantitative easing.
Citigroup slumped 3.4 % to $35.21. MetLife fell 5.8 % to $37.16. Bank of America (ВАС) added 4.1 % to $8.84. Zions Bancorporation soared 11 %, the most in the S&P 500, to $21.58. Regions Financial Corp. jumped 6.9 % to $6.17.
Newmont Mining Corp., the largest U.S. gold producer, dropped 1 % to $54.30. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. retreated 2.5 % to $38.12.
Apple climbed 3.8 % to a record $589.58, rising for a sixth day. The world’s largest technology company had its share price estimate raised to $720 from $515 at Morgan Stanley.
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. rose 7.1 % to $69.50. The largest U.S. iron-ore producer more than doubled its dividend and said it’s refocusing on the execution of expansion projects.
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