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06.12.2012 18:20

European stocks close:

European (SXXP) stocks advanced to an 18- month high amid optimism U.S. lawmakers will agree on a new budget and avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. jumped 8 percent after announcing a new shareholder structure and saying it will buy back shares. Daimler AG (DAI) rose 1.2 percent after selling half its remaining holding in EADS. (EAD) GDF Suez SA slid to its lowest ever after saying earnings will decline next year.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.7 percent to 278.82 at the close of trading, its highest since May 31, 2011.

ECB President Mario Draghi said he expects weak economic growth for the euro-area to continue into the next year.

At a press conference in Frankfurt, he said the ECB now forecasts that the economy will shrink 0.5 percent this year, more than the 0.4 percent contraction it predicted in September. The ECB cut its 2013 forecast to a contraction of 0.3 percent from 0.5 percent growth, he said.

The ECB kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.75 percent. The Bank of England also left its interest rate unchanged today.

National benchmark indexes rose in 15 of the 18 western European markets.

FTSE 100 5,901.42 +9.34 +0.16% CAC 40 3,601.65 +11.15 +0.31% DAX 7,534.54 +79.99 +1.07%

EADS jumped 8 percent to 29.40 euros after the company changed its ownership structure to allow Germany and France to each hold a 12 percent stake. EADS also said it will buy back as much as 15 percent of outstanding shares.

Daimler advanced 1.2 percent to 38.65 euros after selling a 7.5 percent-stake in EADS, valued at 1.66 billion euros ($2.17 billion). The automaker will sell more of its remaining 7.5 percent holding after a lock-up period of 180 days from the end of the sale of the first tranche.

Imagination Technologies Plc (IMG) climbed 6.4 percent to 426.5 pence after JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts led by Sandeep Deshpande said that the company’s first-half results next week will meet or beat analyst expectations. The stock has “considerable upside” in the medium term, they wrote.

Zumtobel AG (ZAG) advanced 5.9 percent to 9 euros after JPMorgan wrote that the Austrian lighting company’s profit margins will improve, raising its recommendation on the shares to overweight, the equivalent of buy, from neutral.

GDF Suez (GSZ) tumbled 11 percent to 15.29 euros, the lowest price since its initial public offering in July 2005. Europe’s largest utility by market value said late yesterday that recurring net income will be 3.1 billion euros to 3.5 billion euros next year, compared with an expected 3.7 billion euros to 4.2 billion euros in 2012. Bank of America lowered its recommendation on the shares to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from buy.

Saipem SpA (SPM), Europe’s largest oil contractor by market value, plunged 6.7 percent to 30.49 euros. The company said late yesterday that Chief Executive Officer Pietro Franco Tali and Alessandro Bernini, chief financial officer at its biggest shareholder, Eni SpA, resigned amid an Italian investigation into contracts in Algeria.

Market Focus

  • The eurozone started the third quarter on a solid footing, according to PMI survey data
  • Earnings Season in U.S.: Major Reports of the Week
  • German private sector output growth slowed for the second month running in July
  • ECB's Mersch says as conditions normalise, it is unlikely that uncoventional policies will remain necessary
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