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31.03.2014 17:40

European stocks close

European advanced, after the biggest weekly gain in more than a month, as investors awaited economic data out of Europe and America later this week.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank’s unprecedented accommodation will be needed for “some time” as the labor market is still recovering. Investors await payroll data due April 4, which will probably show that hiring accelerated in March, according to economists’ forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

Separate reports this week may show that manufacturing in the world’s largest economy expanded further this month, while factory orders rebounded in February, according to economists’ forecasts in Bloomberg News surveys.

On April 3, the European Central Bank will probably maintain its key interest rate at a record low of 0.25 percent, economists’ projections show.

In Germany, a report showed today that retail sales rose 1.3 percent last month after a revised 1.7 percent gain in January. Economists in a Bloomberg News survey had forecast a 0.5 percent drop for February. Separate data showed inflation in the euro area slowed this month more than forecast, keeping pressure on the ECB to take action.

National benchmark indexes advanced in 15 of the 18 western-European markets today. France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.5 percent, while Germany’s DAX and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 each dropped 0.3 percent.

Novartis gained 3.5 percent, the most since January 2013, to 75 Swiss francs. The company ended the drug trial early as the results showed patients treated with it lived longer without being hospitalized for heart failure than those who received standard treatment. Novartis will ask global regulators for marketing approval for the drug.

Monte dei Paschi jumped 4.9 percent to 26.5 euro cents. Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena said it agreed to sell a 6.5 percent stake in the Italian bank to Fintech Advisory Inc. and BTG Pactual Europe LLP. Antonella Mansi, the foundation’s chairman, said the investor pact creates a stable, strategic shareholding for the lender. The non-profit foundation sold 12 percent of Monte dei Paschi earlier this month as it sought to reduce debt.

ING Groep NV climbed 2.8 percent to 10.28 euros after saying it intends to resume dividend payments as soon as next year after a five-year pause. The Dutch financial-services company will pay a dividend over 2015 after fully repaying a 2008 government bailout by next May at the latest. Dividend payouts should grow to at least 40 percent of net income by 2017, ING said.

Drillisch AG added 2.8 percent to 26.34 euros. Chief Executive Officer Paschalis Choulidis told Welt am Sonntag the provider of phone services may pay a special dividend or buy back shares if it doesn’t make acquisitions by 2015.

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