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17.04.2012 18:48

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European stocks gained the most since November as demand increased at a Spanish debt sale, German investor confidence topped forecasts and the International Monetary Fund boosted its global growth outlook.

Spain sold 3.18 billion euros of bills today, compared with a maximum target of 3 billion euros the Treasury set for the sale. The average 12-month yield was 2.623 percent, compared with 1.418 percent at the last auction on March 20, the Bank of Spain said. The Treasury also sold 18-month bills at 3.11 percent, compared with 1.71 percent last month.

German investor confidence unexpectedly rose for a fifth month in April to the highest in almost two years, suggesting Europe’s largest economy can weather the resurgent debt crisis in the euro region’s periphery. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research’s index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, climbed to 23.4 from 22.3 in March.

The world economy will expand 3.5 percent this year and 4.1 percent in 2013, the Washington-based IMF said today in its World Economic Outlook, raising forecasts made in January from 3.3 percent for 2012 and 4 percent for next year.

National benchmark indexes advanced in all of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC 40 Index climbed 2.6 percent, while Germany’s DAX rose 2.5 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 (UKX) added 1.8 percent.

A gauge of bank shares gained 4 percent today as Banco Popolare, Italy’s fifth-largest lender, increased 8.9 percent to 1.15 euros. Barclays, the U.K.’s second-biggest bank by assets, increased 4.9 percent to 221.2 pence. BNP Paribas SA, France’s largest bank, rallied 6.7 percent to 30.94 euros and Societe Generale SA, the country’s second-biggest lender, rose 8.2 percent to 18.52 euros.

Greek banks jumped amid optimism the government is close to completing its plans to restructure the country’s banks. EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA surged 7.3 percent to 71.9 euro cents and National Bank of Greece SA climbed 1.1 percent to 1.88 euros.

Danone advanced 2.8 percent to 53 euros after reporting higher first-quarter sales, led by bottled water and baby food. Revenue rose to 5.12 billion euros from 4.76 billion euros a year earlier, the company said. That beat the 5.05 billion-euro average estimate of 11 analysts.

Marks & Spencer Group Plc slid 2.5 percent to 358.5 pence. The U.K.’s largest clothing retailer said sales of general merchandise at U.K. stores open at least a year fell 2.8 percent in the 13 weeks ended March 31. The average estimate of 10 analysts was for an unchanged performance.

Market Focus

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