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Asian stocks rose, sending the regional benchmark index toward its longest-ever streak of weekly gains, as U.S. jobs and housing data beat projections, boosting confidence the world’s largest economy is recovering.
Nikkei 225 9,647.38 +51.81 +0.54%
Hang Seng 21,374.79 -6.20 -0.03%
S&P/ASX 200 4,306.78 +20.59 +0.48%
Shanghai Composite 2,439.63 +30.07 +1.25%
Samsung Electronics Inc., the world’s third-biggest maker of mobile phones, rose 1.7 percent in Seoul.
Inpex Corp, Japan’s No. 1 energy explorer, advanced 5.1 percent in Tokyo after crude oil futures extended gains for a seventh day.
Air New Zealand Ltd., the nation’s largest carrier, slipped 3.4 percent after posting a 61 percent drop in first-half profit.
AIA Group Ltd., the third-largest Asia-based insurer by market value, rose 3.7 percent to HK$28.40 in Hong Kong after saying the value of new business, a measure of future profitability, surged 40 percent last year.
European stocks climbed as companies from Telecom Italia SpA to Eiffage SA said they will cut their debt in 2012.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 13 of the 18 western-European markets. Germany’s DAX Index gained 0.8 percent, while France’s CAC 40 Index rose 0.7 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slipped less than 0.1 percent.
Telecom Italia jumped 6.8 percent to 86.7 euro cents after the company forecast a bigger-than-estimated reduction of debt this year, as well as stable earnings and revenue. Full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization climbed 7.3 percent to 12.25 billion euros ($16.4 billion), inline with analysts’ estimate of 12.3 billion euros.
Eiffage surged 16 percent to 29.51 euros after Chief Executive Officer Pierre Berger said the French builder’s net income and revenue will climb in 2012 as it improves the operating margins at its contracting units. The company plans to trim its debt by 2 billion euros in five years. Natixis upgraded the shares to “buy” from “neutral.”
Elsewhere, Lloyds Banking Group Plc slid 2.3 percent to 35.73 pence, paring yesterday’s 3.3 percent advance. The shares fell after the lender’s full-year net loss widened to 2.8 billion pounds from 320 million pounds for 2010 as the bank compensated customers who were mis-sold loan insurance. That fell short of the 2.41 billion-pound median analyst estimate.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced to the highest level since 2008 amid better-than- estimated consumer sentiment and home sales reports.
The S&P 500 gained as data showed that purchases of new homes in the U.S. exceeded forecasts in January after climbing a month earlier to a one-year high. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment for February rose to 75.3. Economists projected a reading of 73.
Dow 12,982.95 -1.74 -0.01%, Nasdaq 2,963.75 +6.77 +0.23%, S&P 500 1,365.74 +2.28 +0.17%
Salesforce.com surged 9 percent to $143.64. The amount Salesforce invoiced its customers grew 57 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, topping the 31 percent predicted by Brent Thill, an analyst at UBS AG in San Francisco. Billings rose 29 percent in the third quarter.
AIG gained 1.5 percent to $28.41. The insurer cited a return to “sustainable operating profit” as it booked a tax benefit that fueled record fourth-quarter earnings. AIG is projecting that it will generate enough profit to use tax assets, tied to prior losses, that can limit future payments to the government.
Sears Holdings Corp. jumped 11 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $68.31. The shares surged 34 percent in three days. The company yesterday announced plans to raise as much as $770 million by selling 11 store sites and separating some smaller- format businesses.
Interpublic Group of Cos. rose 6.5 percent to $11.62. The New York-based advertising company announced a $300 million share buyback program.
A gauge of banks had the biggest decline in the S&P 500 among 24 industries, slumping 1.2 percent. Regions Financial Corp.lost 1.9 percent to $5.80. Bank of America had the largest drop in the Dow, falling 1.8 percent to $7.88. Morgan Stanley dropped 2.5 percent to $18.49.
Gap Inc. retreated 4 percent to $22.57. The largest U.S. apparel chain forecast profit this year that was less than some analysts estimated as sales declined at its Old Navy stores.
Sprint Nextel Corp. dropped 2 percent to $2.47. Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, sued a unit of Sprint alleging infringement of four telecommunications patents.
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