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European stocks rose to the highest level in three weeks as German economic sentiment improved more than forecast and Danone SA rallied after reporting earnings.
German investor confidence increased to the highest level in almost three years in February. The index of investor and analyst expectations climbed to 48.2 from 31.5 in January, the ZEW Center for European Economic Research said. That exceeded the median estimate of economists in a survey calling for an increase to 35.
National benchmark indexes advanced in all 18 western European markets, except Iceland. Germany’s DAX jumped 1.6 percent and France’s CAC 40 surged 1.9 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 1 percent to a five-year high.
Danone jumped 5.9 percent to 53.15 euros as the company said it plans to cut 900 jobs in Europe after 2012 profitability declined on weak consumption in southern Europe. Fourth-quarter net income from continuing operations rose to 1.82 billion euros, in line with the 1.81 billion-euro average analyst estimate in a survey.
Bayer rose 2.50 euros to 71.79 euros after saying it began a Phase-3 trial of the Eylea injection, along with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. The trial aims to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the drug in treating Diabetic Macular Edema in Russia, China and other Asian countries, the companies said.
Vodafone dropped 2 percent to 163.5 pence after Bernstein lowered its recommendation on the shares to underperform, the equivalent of sell, from market perform. The European assets of the world’s second-largest wireless carrier will shrink by 23 percent in the next three years as the company faces “structural decline,” analysts led by Robin Bienenstock wrote in a report.
Nobel Biocare Holding AG fell 3.2 percent to 9.61 Swiss francs after Chief Executive Officer Richard Laube said markets will remain difficult in the short term. The world’s second- biggest maker of dental implants reported fourth-quarter net income of 11.2 million euros, exceeding the average analyst estimate of 9.55 million euros.
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