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European stocks were little changed, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index completing its biggest monthly gain since October 2011, as a report showed the U.S. economy expanded at a faster-than-expected pace.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.1 percent to 299.58 at the close of trading London, after earlier climbing as much as 0.4 percent and dropping as much as 0.5 percent. The gauge rallied 5.1 percent in July as Federal Reserve President Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank remains flexible on the pace of its bond-buying program. The Fed will reveal the outcome of a two-day policy meeting after European markets close today. Bernanke has said that low inflation and high unemployment mean the central bank needs to continue buying bonds. The Fed will leave the benchmark interest rate at 0.25 percent when it announces its decision, according to economist survey. The central bank may begin to reduce its bond-purchase program in September, economists predicted in a separate survey.
The U.S. economy, the world’s largest, grew at a 1.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter, after expanding at a revised 1.1 percent pace in the first three months of the year, according to a report from the Commerce Department. Economists had predicted a 1,1 percent expansion for the period, according to the median estimate.
A separate release showed that companies in the U.S. hired a net 200,000 workers in July, the highest reading this year. Economists had projected a gain of 180,000 for the month. The ADP Research Institute’s report showed that private employers increased their workforce by a revised 198,000 in June.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 11 of the 18 western-European markets today.
FTSE 100 6,621.06 +50.11 +0.76% CAC 40 3,992.69 +6.08 +0.15% DAX 8,275.97 +4.95 +0.06%
AB InBev jumped 6.9 percent to 72.38 euros, its biggest advance since May 2010. Second-quarter organic normalized earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization rose 5.8 percent as the company sold more expensive beer in the U.S. Analysts had predicted growth of 3.7 percent for the period.
Diageo Plc, which brews Guinness beer, Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, rose 3.2 percent to 2,054 pence. The world’s biggest distiller posted operating profit excluding some items of 3.53 billion pounds, compared with a 3.48 billion-pound median estimate.
Invensys advanced 1.1 percent to 496.3 pence after Schneider (SU) Electric said it will buy the company for the equivalent of 502 pence a share. Schneider, which posted first-half earnings today and reaffirmed its Ebita-margin forecast for 2013, added 3.3 percent to 59.91 euros.
PSA Peugeot Citroen, which yesterday won European Commission approval for a 7 billion-euro guarantee from the French government, surged 6.7 percent to 9.60 euros. The carmaker posted an operating loss of 65 million euros in the first half, a narrower deficit that the 295.8 million-euro average of analyst estimates.
HeidelbergCement AG increased 5.5 percent to 57.74 euros. The cement maker said sales in North America and a recovering market in the U.K. helped profit in the second quarter beat analysts’ estimates.
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