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15.03.2013 08:03

Stocks: Thursday’s review

Asian stocks outside Japan declined, led by material producers and developers, on concern policy makers in China will step up efforts to cool the property market and as Hong Kong banks raised mortgage rates.

Nikkei 225 12,381.19 +141.53 +1.16%

Hang Seng 22,619.18 +62.53 +0.28%

S&P/ASX 200 5,032.22 -60.18 -1.18%

Shanghai Composite 2,270.28 +6.31 +0.28%

BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s biggest mining company, slid 2.3 percent in Sydney as metal futures fell.

Country Garden Holdings Co., the Chinese developer controlled by billionaire Yang Huiyan, declined 3.7 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 255 Stock Average, the best performing developed-market benchmark gauge this year, rose after the lower house endorsed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s nominees for the Bank of Japan’s leadership.

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.

Major stock indexes rose, ending trading at session highs

U.S. stocks climbed, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward a record high, as jobless claims unexpectedly dropped last week.

“Hitting a new high is going to send a signal to all of the fence-sitters that maybe it’s time to take a fresh look at equities,” Alan Gayle, senior strategist at RidgeWorth Capital Management, said over the phone. The Richmond, Virginia-based firm oversees about $48 billion. “The U.S. economy is reasserting itself in a leadership role in terms of overall economic momentum. The housing market is showing recovery, so this is all good for wealth. The decline in jobless claims suggests that the job market is continuing to improve.”

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, which measures the cost of using options as insurance against declines in the S&P 500, fell 2.3 percent to 11.56. The gauge is trading near the lowest level since February 2007.

First-time jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ended March 9, the fewest since mid-January, according to data today from the Labor Department in Washington. The median forecast of economists called for an increase to 350,000. The four-week average declined to a five- year low.

Most components of DOW index closed in plus. Shares of Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ, +2.77%) advanced more than other components. Shares of Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK, -0.92%) fell more than other components

All sectors of the S&P closed in plus. Most growts showed technology sector (+0.9%).

At the close:

Dow +82.25 14,537.53 +0.57%

Nasdaq +13.81 3,258.93 +0.43%

S&P +8.53 1,563.05 +0.55%

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