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European stocks advanced, following their biggest rally in seven weeks, as investors assessed a report that showed the U.S. economy created fewer new jobs last month than forecast.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index increased 0.7 percent to 325.09 at the close of trading, taking its advance this week to 0.8 percent. The equity benchmark rallied 1.5 percent yesterday as the European Central Bank left interest rates at a record low. European stocks have still fallen 3.3 percent from their high on Jan. 22 amid a sell-off in emerging-market currencies and signs of slowing economic growth in China.
In the U.S., a Labor Department report in Washington showed that the unemployment rate unexpectedly slipped to 6.6 percent in January, its lowest in more than five years. The release also showed that employers in the world’s biggest economy increased their payrolls by 113,000 workers last month. That missed the median forecast of 92 economists in a Bloomberg survey for net hires of 180,000.
National benchmark indexes rose in every western-European market except Iceland today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent. France’s CAC 40 added 1 percent. The volume of shares changing hands in companies listed on the Stoxx 600 was 8.3 percent greater than the 30-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Statoil added 5.7 percent to 157.50 kroner. Norway’s national oil company scaled back its spending plans for the three years through 2016 by 8 percent to about $20 billion a year in an attempt to increase its free cash flow. The company earlier reported a 27 percent drop in quarterly profit.
Aperam, the stainless-steel producer spun off by ArcelorMittal in 2011, jumped 13 percent to 15.39 euros. Ebitda in the fourth quarter amounted to $84 million, beating the $65.5 million that analysts had predicted.
Vedanta Resources Plc increased 4.3 percent to 857.5 pence after Bank of America Corp. raised the commodity producer to buy from neutral. The brokerage said that the share price already reflects concern the Indian rupee will continue to weaken. Vedanta mines iron ore in India and copper in Zambia.
ArcelorMittal advanced 0.8 percent to 12.50 euros. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose to $1.91 billion in the fourth quarter, from $1.56 billion a year earlier. That beat the average analyst estimate of $1.81 billion. The company also said earnings will continue to climb in 2014, forecasting full-year Ebitda of about $8 billion.
Daimler AG gained 1.7 percent to 63.54 euros as Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said he intends to increase the prices of some of the company’s vehicles because demand has outstripped supply.