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02.04.2012 07:13

Stocks: Weekly review

Asian stocks swung between gains and losses as the region’s benchmark equity index headed toward its biggest quarterly gain since 2010. Japanese manufacturers slid after the nation’s industrial production unexpectedly fell and investors waited for U.S. data on income and spending.

Nikkei 225 10,083.56 -31.23 -0.31%

Hang Seng 20,555.58 -53.81 -0.26%

S&P/ASX 200 4,335.24 -2.66 -0.06%

Shanghai Composite 2,262.79 +10.63 +0.47%

Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s most profitable lender, climbed 1.6 percent after posting earnings that exceeded estimates.

Fanuc Corp., Japan’s biggest maker of factory robots, fell 2.3 percent.

Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., the world No. 2 real estate company, plunged 12 percent in Hong Kong after the firm’s co-chairmen were arrested in a corruption probe.

European stocks rose, capping the best first-quarter rally for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index since 2006, as euro-area finance ministers set the overall ceiling for the rescue of the region’s indebted nations at $1.1 trillion.

Euro-area ministers, meeting in Copenhagen today, set the maximum lending volume of the proposed European Stability Mechanism at 500 billion euros ($667 billion) and the combined lending ceiling of the ESM and the temporary fund -- the European Financial Stability Facility -- at 700 billion euros.

This, in addition to the 102 billion euros already paid to support current rescue programs, takes the total size of the firewall to 800 billion euros, the Eurogroup said.

National benchmark indexes rose in all of the 18 western European markets, except Greece. Germany’s DAX Index gained 1 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 0.5 percent and France’s CAC 40 advanced 1.3 percent.

Daimler rose 2.1 percent to 45.21 euros as a gauge of carmakers was the best-performing group in the Stoxx 600. Bank of America recommended buying Daimler’s shares, saying the company “is finally cutting out costs, reducing complexity, simplifying engineering and refreshing the product portfolio.”

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) advanced 2.4 percent to 67.43 euros. Preferred shares of Volkswagen, Europe’s largest maker of automobiles, gained 1.5 percent to 131.55 euros.

Michelin & Cie., the world’s second-largest tiremaker, climbed 2.4 percent to 55.83 euros and Continental AG rallied 3.1 percent to 70.77 euros.

BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, added 1.6 percent to 1,907.5 pence as a gauge of basic-materials shares rose 2.6 percent. Rio Tinto Group, the third-largest mining company, gained 2.1 percent to 3,446 pence.

U.S. stocks rose, extending the biggest first-quarter advance since 1998 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as stronger-than-forecast growth in consumer sentiment and spending bolstered optimism in the economy.

Stocks rose today as Americans increased their spending by the most in seven months, Commerce Department data showed. Another report showed that the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s final index of consumer sentiment climbed to 76.2, the highest since February 2011, from 75.3 last month. European governments capped fresh rescue lending at 500 billion euros ($666 billion), after a Germany-led coalition opposed a further expansion of the firewall.

Dow 13,212.04 +66.22 +0.50%, Nasdaq 3,091.57 -3.79 -0.12%, S&P 500 1,408.47 +5.19 +0.37%

Walt Disney (DIS) added 1.8 percent, the biggest advance in the Dow, to $43.78 after Lazard raised its recommendation for the shares to buy from neutral.

Research In Motion Ltd. jumped 7.1 percent to $14.70. The maker of BlackBerry smartphones said it plans to refocus on the business market and review strategic options after struggling to compete against Android devices and Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

Apple, the most valuable technology company, lost 1.7 percent to $599.55. An audit of Foxconn Technology Group, the biggest maker of Apple devices, found “serious and pressing” violations of Chinese labor laws, prompting the company to pledge to cut working hours and give employees more oversight.

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