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European stocks advanced to a 4 1/2-year high as the region’s policy makers gathered for a two- day summit in Brussels, and as a report showed U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fell.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) gained 1.1 percent to 298.51 at 4:30 p.m. in London, the highest level since June 2008.
In the U.S., applications for jobless benefits dropped 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ended March 9 from a revised 342,000 the previous week, Labor Department figures showed today. Economists forecast 350,000 claims, according to the median estimates.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 15 of the 18 western European markets.
FTSE 100 6,529.41 +47.91 +0.74% CAC 40 3,871.58 +35.54 +0.93% DAX 8,058.37 +87.46 +1.10%
Generali (G) rose 9.4 percent to 13.33 euros. The insurer said fourth-quarter operating profit increased 12 percent from a year earlier to 928 million euros ($1.2 billion), boosted by the non- life insurance business.
HeidelbergCement advanced 2.9 percent to 56.16 euros, the highest price since October 2008. The German cement maker said debt declined more than expected last year as improved earnings covered dividends and repayments. Borrowings fell 700 million euros to 7 billion euros, while analysts had predicted 7.4 billion euros.
Booker Group Plc, Britain’s biggest food wholesaler, jumped 8 percent to 125.3 pence, the highest price in seven years, after the U.K. Competition Commission provisionally approved its acquisition of Makro Holding Ltd.
OC Oerlikon Corp. (OERL) fell 2 percent to 12.40 Swiss francs, paring an earlier loss of as much as 4.4 percent. The world’s largest maker of textile machinery will appoint a new chief executive officer to replace Michael Buscher, who led the company through a reorganization since joining in 2010. Chief Financial Officer Juerg Fedier will act as interim CEO, the Pfaeffikon, Switzerland-based company said, without giving any reason for the switch.
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