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European stocks climbed the most in almost four weeks as companies from Munich Re to BP Plc beat earnings estimates and a measure of euro-area services output shrank less than forecast.
An index based on a survey of purchasing managers in the services industry of the 17 countries that use the euro rose to 48.6 in January from 47.8 in December, Markit Economics said in a report today. The London-based research company had initially estimated a reading of 48.3 for the measure. A reading below 50 means that activity contracted.
About 55 percent of the 151 western European companies that have reported earnings since Jan. 8 beat analysts’ projections for profit, according to data. Of the 177 that have posted sales, 54 percent exceeded forecasts.
National benchmark indexes rose in 15 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.6 percent and France’s CAC 40 jumped 1 percent. Germany’s DAX advanced 0.4 percent.
Munich Re rose 3.9 percent to 138.95 euros after saying it will increase its dividend for 2012 to 7 euros a share from 6.25 euros. The company also reported preliminary net income of 480 million euros, beating the 448.3 million-euro average estimate of 10 analysts. It made a profit of 627 million euros a year earlier.
BP Plc added 1.4 percent to 468.7 pence. Europe’s second- largest oil producer reported earnings adjusted for one-off items and changes in inventory of $4 billion, more than the $3.7 billion average estimate of 16 analysts.
KPN slumped 16 percent to 3.45 euros after the biggest phone company in the Netherlands posted a fourth-quarter net loss of 162 million euros. The average estimate of eight analysts had predicted a profit of 362 million euros. KPN spent 1.35 billion euros at an auction of wireless spectrum during the quarter.
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