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20.03.2013 17:55

European stocks close

European stocks climbed, snapping a three-day loss for the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as the region’s policy makers weighed options for keeping Cyprus in the euro area.

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden called for the 17 euro-area finance ministers to reconvene quickly to put together a new package for Cyprus, after the rejection of the levy threw an earlier bailout plan into limbo.

The European Central Bank, whose Governing Council meets today in Frankfurt, is likely to delay the decision on supplying emergency funds to Cypriot banks, two people familiar with the matter said.

Policy makers don’t need to vote on whether to extend or halt Emergency Liquidity Assistance to Cypriot banks at their two-day meeting that ends tomorrow, the people said.

Kathimerini reported that a preliminary deal has been reached to sell Cyprus Popular Bank to Russian investors, paving the way for a reduction of 4 billion euros in the country’s financing needs. Spokesman Christos Stylianides told Bloomberg News that no deal had been reached.

National benchmark indexes advanced in 15 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX climbed 0.7 percent and France’s CAC 40 jumped 1.4 percent.

Deutsche Bank paced a rebound in euro-area lenders, gaining 1.4 percent to 32.44 euros. The shares snapped a three-day decline even as Germany’s largest bank said it raised its litigation reserves 33 percent to 2.4 billion euros.

BNP Paribas SA rose 3.1 percent to 42.24 euros and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA added 2.4 percent to 7.40 euros. A gauge of the euro-area’s largest banks rallied 2.3 percent after falling 6.8 percent over the previous three sessions.

In the U.K., George Osborne told Parliament in his annual budget that the forecast for economic growth this year was cut by half to 0.6 percent as he lowered corporation tax and set out an updated central-bank remit to aid Britain’s recovery.

Taylor Wimpey Plc paced a rally in homebuilders, climbing 6.1 percent to 90.85 pence, its highest price since May 2008. Persimmon Plc rallied 4 percent to 1,010 pence, the highest since November 2007. Barratt Developments Plc jumped 6.6 percent to 255.6 pence, the highest price since April 2008.

Mediaset SpA gained 5.5 percent to 1.65 euros after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its recommendation for the shares to neutral from sell, citing their recent drop. The stock has tumbled 19 percent since Jan. 18.

Elementis Plc climbed 3.8 percent to 275 pence, its highest price since at least 1988, after JPMorgan Chase & Co. upgraded the chemical company to overweight, equivalent to a buy rating. The brokerage also raised its price estimate by 50 percent to 300 pence.

Dufry AG advanced 3.3 percent to 120.50 Swiss francs as UBS AG raised its recommendation for the operator of duty-free shops to buy from neutral. The bank increased its price target to 138 francs.

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