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European stocks advanced, after remaining little changed for most of the day, as the U.S. House of Representatives gathered to vote on suspending the country’s debt limit and as results from Novartis to Unilever beat analyst estimates.
In the U.S., representatives in the Republican-led House are voting to pass legislation suspending the government’s $16.4 trillion debt limit until May 19. By postponing a decision on raising the debt ceiling, Republicans plan to focus on other deadlines to seek deeper spending cuts from President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.
In Europe, Spain’s recession deepened in the last quarter of 2012, a report showed. Gross domestic product shrank for a sixth quarter, contracting 0.6 percent from the previous three months, the Bank of Spain said in an estimate.
National benchmark indexes rose in 11 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.4 percent. Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent.
Novartis advanced 4.1 percent to 62.55 Swiss francs, the highest price since August 2008, after saying Chairman Daniel Vasella will step down from the board after 17 years, and Bayer AG’s Joerg Reinhardt will take over as non-executive chairman. Fourth-quarter earnings came in at $1.27 per share, beating projections for $1.25.
Unilever gained 3.1 percent to 2,526 pence in London, the highest price since at least September 1988. The world’s second- biggest consumer-goods company posted fourth-quarter underlying sales growth of 7.8 percent, exceeding the average analyst estimate calling for an increase of 6.2 percent.
SAP AG rose 2.4 percent to 59.20 euros after the biggest maker of business-management software forecast full-year profit will increase at least 12 percent. The company’s cloud, mobile and Hana database businesses are “growing fantastically,” Co- Chief Executive Officer Bill McDermott said in an interview.
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