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European stocks advanced the most in four weeks as trading resumed after a four-day weekend and a report showed U.S. factory orders increased in February.
Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris quit the government today after helping clinch the final terms of an international aid agreement to stave off a financial collapse of the island.
Sarris told reporters in Nicosia that he resigned due to a committee set up today to investigate the reasons that led to Cyprus’s economic crisis.
Euro-area manufacturing output contracted less than initially estimated in March. A gauge of manufacturing in the 17-nation bloc declined to 46.8 last month from 47.9 in February, London-based Markit Economics said today. That compared to an initial estimate of 46.6 on March 21. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
The U.K. economy will avoid another recession and exports will help propel a “modest” recovery this year, according to the British Chambers of Commerce. The BCC’s gauges of domestic and foreign demand at manufacturers and services companies all rose last quarter, the London-based group said in a report, with the export measures close to a record.
National benchmark indexes rose in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 1.2 percent, Germany’s DAX climbed 1.9 percent and France’s CAC 40 jumped 2 percent.
Vodafone rose 2.9 percent to 192 pence, after earlier gaining as much as 6.1 percent, as the Financial Times cited talk that Verizon and AT&T are working on a breakup bid for the U.K. group.
FirstGroup, an international passenger company with bus and rail operations, climbed 7.5 percent to 216.1 pence. Bank of America upgraded the shares to buy from underperform, citing the fading probability of equity raising and projecting a 20 percent upside on the shares.
ICAP, the world’s largest broker of transactions between banks, gained 6.1 percent to 308.1 pence as Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. said it will buy eSpeed, the electronic trading system for U.S. Treasuries, from BGC Partners Inc. for about $750 million in cash. ICAP owns BrokerTec, another electronic trading platform for the fixed income markets.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA slipped 2.8 percent to 18 euro cents after it reported a third straight quarterly loss, missing analysts’ estimates, on soaring bad-loan provisions and lower income from lending.
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