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European stocks gained the most in a month, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posting its longest winning streak since January, as banks advanced and a report showed Chinese imports beat forecasts in March.
The Stoxx 600 increased 1.8 percent to 293.19 at the close of trading, its biggest advance since March 5.
China’s imports rose by a better-than-forecast 14.1 percent in March, while export growth slowed to 10 percent from a year earlier, the customs administration said today in Beijing.
In the U.S., several members of the Federal Open Market Committee said the central bank should begin tapering its bond buying program later this year and stop it by year end. The members “thought that if the outlook for labor market conditions improved as anticipated, it would probably be appropriate to slow purchases later in the year and to stop them by year-end,” according to the record of the Federal Open Market Committee’s March 19-20 meeting released today in Washington ahead of the regularly scheduled 2 p.m. time.
National benchmark indexes climbed in all of the 18 western European (SXXP) markets except Iceland.
FTSE 100 6,390.82 +77.61 +1.23% CAC 40 3,743.79 +73.07 +1.99% DAX 7,811.07 +173.56 +2.27%
National Bank of Greece SA and Eurobank Ergasias SA surged 27 percent to 59.9 euro cents, and 26 percent to 29.4 cents, respectively. The planned merger of the two lenders has been postponed and not canceled, Bank of Greece Governor George Provopoulos told lawmakers in Athens today.
SMA Solar rose 8.8 percent to 19.88 euros. Wacker Chemie, which makes the main raw material in solar panels, gained 5.8 percent to 59.16 euros. Meyer Burger Technology AG climbed 7.9 percent to 7.94 Swiss francs.
First Solar Inc., the world’s largest thin-film solar manufacturer by output, surged the most on record yesterday after forecasting sales of $3.8 billion to $4 billion this year. Earnings will be $4 to $4.50 a share, exceeding the $3.57 average of 23 analysts’ estimates.
Gerresheimer, which develops and produces specialty glass and plastics products, gained 2.5 percent to 44.74 euros. First- quarter revenue jumped 10 percent to 296.7 million euros ($388 million), compared with the average analyst estimate of 286.7 million euros.
EasyJet Plc (EZJ) increased 6.7 percent to 1,090 pence after Citigroup Inc. raised Europe’s second-largest discount airline to buy from neutral, saying it expects the company’s 2013 earnings per share to grow about 30 percent, then 6 percent to 7 percent annually thereafter. Citigroup also said its sees dividend growth and possibly more special dividends.
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