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07.03.2013 08:42

Stocks: Wednesday’s review

Asian stocks climbed, with the regional benchmark index touching the highest level since August 2011, after U.S. shares surged to a record as the service industry expanded at the fastest pace in a year and investors bet central banks will continue stimulus measures.

Nikkei 225 11,932.27 +248.82 +2.13%

Hang Seng 22,777.84 +217.34 +0.96%

S&P/ASX 200 5,116.79 +41.43 +0.82%

Shanghai Composite 2,347.18 +20.87 +0.90%

Toyota Motor Corp., a carmaker that gets 25 percent of its sales in North America, rose 2 percent in Tokyo.

Sharp Corp. jumped 14 percent as the unprofitable Japanese television maker is said to be in talks to secure investment from Samsung Electronics Co.

ZTE Corp. surged 7.1 percent in Hong Kong after China’s second-largest mobile-phone equipment maker said it’s collaborating with Intel Corp. on next-generation smartphones.

European stocks fell from a 4 1/2- year high, with the benchmark index reversing gains in the last hour of trading, as companies from Henkel AG to Legal & General Group Plc posted earnings.

National benchmark indexes dropped in 14 of the 18 western European markets. Germany’s DAX added 0.6 percent and France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.4 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was little changed.

Sacyr slipped 3.6 percent to 1.65 euros after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said it sold a 2.79 percent stake in the Spanish builder at 1.64 euros per share. The bank purchased the shares from Austral BV before reselling them to investors.

Axel Springer AG tumbled 5.9 percent to 34.13 euros after Europe’s largest newspaper publisher forecast lower profit in 2013 because of spending to accelerate its shift to digital publications amid a declining print business. The owner of Germany’s largest tabloid also reported a 5.8 percent increase in 2012 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

Henkel rose 2.4 percent to 70.33 euros, the highest price since at least August 1992. The world’s biggest adhesives company reported a 4 percent increase in like-for-like revenue for the fourth-quarter, topping analyst estimates for a 3.2 percent gain. Henkel also forecast sales growth of as much as 5 percent and higher profitability this year.

Legal & General gained 3.3 pence to 166 pence, the highest price in almost six years, as the largest manager of U.K. pension assets raised its dividend 20 percent to 7.65 pence a share after demand for retirement products boosted sales, cash flow and profit.

Admiral Group Plc rallied 5.3 percent to 1,334 pence after the owner of the website reported a 15 percent increase in full-year pretax profit to 345 million pounds ($519 million). That beat the 331.7 million-pound average estimate of analysts.

Vodafone Group Plc rallied 6.8 percent to 180 pence, the biggest increase since February 2009, after people familiar with the situation said Verizon Communications is seeking to resolve its relationship with the U.K. company and has weighed options that range from ending its wireless venture with Vodafone to a full merger of the two phone companies. Vodafone owns a 45 percent stake in the Verizon Wireless subsidiary which is is worth about $115 billion, according to analysts.

U.S. stocks rose, extending the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s record high, as a private report showed companies took on more workers than estimated and the Federal Reserve said the economy is growing.

Companies added 198,000 workers in February, according to a private report based on payrolls. The increase in employment followed a revised 215,000 gain the prior month, figures from the ADP Research Institute showed today. The median forecast of economists called for an advance of 170,000.

A Labor Department report this week may show private payrolls rose by 170,000 last month, according to the Bloomberg survey median. Orders to U.S. factories fell in January, weighed down by a slump in demand for military hardware and commercial aircraft, the Commerce Department reported today.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke described the job market as “generally weak” in testimony to a Senate committee on Feb. 26. The U.S. economy expanded at a modest to moderate pace across most of the country amid rising consumer demand for homes and autos, the Fed said in its Beige Book report, a summary and analysis of economic conditions in 12 U.S. districts.

Raw-material, financial and health-care companies had the largest gains among 10 groups in the S&P 500, while telephone and consumer staples fell the most. Bank of America (ВАС) rallied 3.2 percent to $11.92. Alcoa Inc. (АА), the largest U.S. aluminum producer, added 2.6 percent to $8.57.

At the close:

S&P 500 1,541.46 +1.67 +0.11%

NASDAQ 3,222.36 -1.77 -0.05%

Dow 14,296.24 +42.47 +0.30%

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