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European stocks advanced, heading for their biggest weekly gain this year, as better-than-forecast euro-area economic growth and U.S. consumer-confidence reports outweighed worse-than-estimated U.S. industrial output data.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.5 percent. The benchmark gauge rose 2.5 percent this week as comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen fueled optimism the U.S. economy can withstand reduced monthly bond purchases.
“Despite weaker industrial production, we see investors remain calm,” said Kai Fachinger, who oversees about $700 million as portfolio manager at Robeco SAM AG in Zurich. “For the moment, underlying sentiment remains positive. Also, macroeconomic news out of Europe was good today, so that provides a bit of a cushion.”
The euro-area economy expanded faster in the final quarter of 2013 than economists forecast, led by Germany and France, data from the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg showed. Gross domestic product in the euro zone rose 0.3 percent after a 0.1 percent increase in the third quarter, beating the median forecast of 0.2 percent.
Preliminary data showed that U.S. consumer confidence was unchanged in February. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index remained at 81.2 this month, the same as in January. The median estimate of economists called for a drop to 80.2.
Factory production in the U.S. unexpectedly declined in January by the most since May 2009, according to Federal Reserve figures published today in Washington.
The 0.8 percent decrease at manufacturers followed a revised 0.3 percent gain the prior month that was weaker than initially reported. The median forecast of economists called for a 0.1 percent advance. Total industrial production dropped 0.3 percent.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 17 of the 18 western-European markets today.
FTSE 100 6,661.98 +2.56 +0.04% CAC 40 4,336.07 +23.27 +0.54% DAX 9,649.65 +52.88 +0.55%
Italy’s FTSE MIB added 1.7 percent to the highest level since July 2011 as Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned, possibly clearing the way for a new government led by his chief rival Matteo Renzi.
ThyssenKrupp climbed 4 percent to 20.50 euros. Adjusted earnings from continuing operations before interest and taxes more than doubled to 247 million euros ($338 million) in the fiscal first quarter, exceeding the 218.7 million-euro average of estimates.
A gauge of European mining companies posted the best performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600 as gold headed for its biggest weekly advance since October and silver was set for its longest rally since March 2008.
Fresnillo, which produces gold and silver in Mexico, climbed 5.5 percent to 973 pence. Polymetal International Plc gained 3.6 percent to 659.5 pence.
Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc increased 4.6 percent to 1,301 pence after the maker of generic drugs raised its full-year revenue growth forecast to about 23 percent from a previous prediction of about 20 percent.
Ladbrokes Plc added 2.8 percent to 149.7 pence after UBS AG raised the U.K. operator of betting shops to buy from neutral, citing recent declines in the share price. Ladbrokes has fallen 16 percent so far this year.
Schindler declined 1.4 percent to 131.50 Swiss francs after the company said net profit in 2013 fell to 463 million francs ($519 million) from 730 million francs a year earlier. Schindler also said sales rose 8.4 percent in local currencies to 8.81 billion francs, beating analyst estimates of 8.76 billion francs.
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