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03.11.2011 18:43

European stocks close:

European stocks advanced after the euro-area central bank unexpectedly cut the benchmark interest rate and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou signaled he won’t call a referendum on the latest bailout package.

The ECB unexpectedly cut interest rates as Italian and Spanish borrowing costs soared after euro-area leaders raised the prospect of Greece leaving the monetary union. ECB officials, meeting under the presidency of Mario Draghi for the first time, cut the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 1.25 percent.

Papandreou signaled he won’t call a referendum calling into question Greece’s membership of the euro, saying he will reach out to the opposition about forming a transitional government.

The Greek prime minister said the country belongs in the currency bloc and welcomed support shown by the main opposition New Democracy party for last week’s rescue agreement agreed with EU leaders in Brussels.

National benchmark indexes gained in 17 of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC 40 rallied 2.7 percent and Germany’s DAX climbed 2.8 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 1.1 percent.

National Bank of Greece SA led the country’s lenders higher, it rose 11 percent to 1.80 euros. Alpha Bank SA climbed 15 percent to 1.07 euros. Piraeus Bank SA rallied 10 percent to 23.6 euro cents. Banks rose throughout Europe, with BNP Paribas SA, France’s biggest bank, advancing 7.5 percent to 31.92 euros. Commerzbank AG, Germany’s second-largest lender, added 5.5 percent to 1.75 euros.

Swiss Re Ltd. and Man Group Plc gained more than 2 percent after reporting better-than-expected earnings.

Swiss Re rose 6.1 percent to 49 Swiss francs. The world’s second-biggest reinsurer said third-quarter profit more than doubled to $1.35 billion. That beat the $539 million average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Man Group gained 2.4 percent to 144.7 pence. The biggest publicly traded hedge-fund manager reported a smaller-than- forecast decline in pretax profit in the fiscal first half. Pretax profit dropped to $195 million in the six months through September from $227 million in the year-earlier period, the London-based company said. Man forecast pretax profit of $185 million.

Cable & Wireless Communications jumped 7.8 percent to 39.33 pence. The company said first-half net income before exceptional items rose 9 percent to $163 million. The company also said restructuring is ahead of schedule.

Aker Solutions ASA surged 10 percent to 67.15 kroner. Norway’s biggest oil platform maker said third-quarter net income more than tripled to 1.12 billion kroner ($200 million) as it booked a gain after separating out Kvaerner ASA.

ING Groep NV rallied 9.4 percent to 6.18 euros. The biggest financial-services company in the Netherlands said it plans to cut 11 percent of the jobs at its Dutch bank and posted third- quarter earnings that surpassed analysts’ estimates.

Tenaris SA soared 15 percent to 12.85 euros. The world’s largest maker of seamless pipes said third-quarter profit rose 7 percent on higher demand in the U.S. and Europe and increased prices.

Rheinmetall AG tumbled 7.6 percent to 35.12 euros. The maker of KS Kolbenschmidt engine pistons and a partner in Germany’s Puma battle tank said it won’t stage an initial public offering of its automotive unit, citing stock-market declines. Rheinmetall’s third-quarter earnings before interest and taxes rose to 76 million euros, missing analyst estimates.

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