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European stocks rose as China said it will help resolve the region’s debt crisis and companies from BNP Paribas SA to Heineken NV reported earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.
China offered to invest in Europe’s bailout funds and sustain its holdings of euro assets. The commitment offers an incentive to European finance ministers, who are increasing pressure on Greece to deliver budget cuts in exchange for a second bailout.
Euro-area finance ministers postponed a decision slated for tonight on Greek aid totaling 130 billion euros ($171 billion) until at least Feb. 20 and possibly until after a full-time government emerges from the nation’s elections later this year. Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that Europe’s wealthier countries are “playing with fire” by toying with the idea of expelling it from the euro area.
Europe’s economy shrank less than economists forecast in the fourth quarter after better-than-predicted performance in Germany and France. Gross domestic product in the 17-nation euro area fell 0.3 percent from the prior three months, the first drop since the second quarter of 2009, the European Union’s statistics office said today.
National benchmark indexes gained in 12 of the 18 western European markets today. France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX rose 0.4 percent each, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.1 percent.
BNP Paribas rallied 4.1 percent to 34.89 euros as fourth- quarter net income declined to 765 million euros from 1.55 billion euros a year earlier. Societe Generale SA rose 2.2 percent to 22.38 euros after three days of losses. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA rallied 11 percent to 33.64 euro cents and UniCredit SpA climbed 2.2 percent to 4.16 euros.
Heineken advanced 3.7 percent to 37.90 euros after the brewer reported increased annual profit and unveiled new cost- saving targets. Earnings before interest and taxes in 2011 rose 2.8 percent to 2.7 billion euros, excluding some one-time items, the Amsterdam-based maker of Amstel said.
TUI AG, the owner of Europe’s largest travel company, rose 3.5 percent to 6.43 euros after saying it will sell a stake in Hapag-Lloyd and may dispose of its remaining holding in the shipper in an initial public offering.
Puma SE rose 3.1 percent to 247.25 euros after Europe’s second-largest sporting goods maker reported profit that beat analysts’ estimates and its own projection and forecast growth in sales and earnings in each of the next two years.
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