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02.08.2013 17:20

European stock close

European stocks advanced for a fifth day, extending a nine-week high, as company earnings beat estimates and investors studied U.S. jobs data for indications of when the Federal Reserve will start to pare stimulus.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.3 percent to 304.24 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The measure added 1.8 percent this week as central banks maintained their stimulus and investors weighed company results. It has gained 10 percent since a low on June 24 amid growing optimism that the Fed won’t reduce its bond purchases until the economy gains substantial traction.

U.S. employers added fewer workers than anticipated in July as the jobless rate dropped to 7.4 percent, data showed today. The 162,000 increase in payrolls last month followed a revised 188,000 increase in June that was less than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed in Washington. The median forecast of economists called for a 185,000 gain.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said this week economic indicators signal the euro region is past the worst of its longest-ever recession. The euro-area unemployment rate remained unchanged in June amid increasing signs the economy is emerging from its longest-ever recession, a European Union report showed, also this week.

UBS AG upgraded its rating of the equity markets in Europe, excluding the U.K., to neutral from underweight. The bank cited an improving economy and availability of credit, coupled with reduced levels of fiscal austerity.

National benchmark indexes rose in 12 of the 18 western European markets.

FTSE 100 6,647.87 -34.11 -0.51% CAC 40 4,045.65 +2.92 +0.07% DAX 8,406.94 -3.79 -0.05%  

Of the nine Stoxx 500 companies that reported earnings today, five beat profit forecasts, while seven exceeded projections for sales.

Axa climbed 2.4 percent to 17.16 euros, its highest price since April 2010. Europe’s second-largest insurer posted first-half operating income of 2.58 billion euros ($3.41 billion), above the 2.38 billion-euro average forecast. Net income fell a less-than-estimated 3 percent.

Allianz SE (ALV) advanced 0.9 percent to 119.95 euros. Europe’s largest insurer said second-quarter net income rose 27 percent to 1.59 billion euros from a year earlier. That exceeded the 1.33 billion-euro average estimate of analysts. The company also said the top end of its target range for operating profit this year.

Man (EMG) jumped 9.5 percent to 91.45 pence, for its largest rally since May 3. The world’s biggest publicly traded hedge-fund manager said first-half adjusted pretax profit increased 9.8 percent to $134 million, with fees for investment gains more than tripling to $90 million.

IAG rose 6.9 percent to 317.5 pence. The parent of British Airways posted operating profit before one-time items of 245 million euros, compared with a 4 million-euro loss in the year-earlier period.

RBS Falls

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Europe’s second-largest airline, slid 5 percent to 14.68 euros, a three-month low. First-half operating profit plunged 69 percent to 72 million euros, missing the average analyst estimate for 139 million euros.

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