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European stocks rose for a fourth day as companies from PSA Peugeot Citroen to Volkswagen AG posted results and speculation mounted that the region's central bank will cut rates, offsetting worse-than-estimated German business confidence data.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) gained 0.7 percent to 294.63 at the close of trading.
Economists from Nomura International Plc to UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc now expect the central bank to cut its key interest rate to a record low as the euro-region economy slumps.
German business confidence fell for a second month in April, a report showed today. The Ifo institute in Munich said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, dropped to 104.4 from 106.7 in March. The median economist forecast a decline to 106.2.
National benchmark indexes climbed in all of the 18 western European markets except Ireland.
FTSE 100 6,431.76 +25.64 +0.40% CAC 40 3,842.94 +59.89 +1.58% DAX 7,759.03 +100.82 +1.32%
Peugeot advanced 10 percent to 6.02 euros, its largest gain since Feb. 22. Europe's second-biggest carmaker reported a 6.5 percent decline in first-quarter revenue to 13 billion euros ($16.9 billion). That still beat the 12.7 billion-euro average analyst estimate, as delivery growth in China and Latin America limited the decline.
Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, added 2.6 percent to 150.70 euros after reporting first-quarter profit that met analysts' estimates and retaining its 2013 earnings target. Earnings before interest and taxes fell to 2.34 billion euros from 3.17 billion euros a year earlier. Revenue declined 1.6 percent.
Storebrand ASA (STB) rose 6.5 percent to 25.21 kroner after it posted first quarter profit of 357 million kroner ($60.2 million), beating the average analyst estimate of 329.8 million kroner. Norway's second-largest insurer reported a 29 percent jump in net premium income to 11.2 billion kroner.
Jeronimo Martins SGPS SA (JMT) rallied 6.8 percent to 18.10 euros, its highest price since at least February 1993, after Portugal's biggest retailer reported first-quarter revenue of 2.77 billion euros, beating the average analyst estimate of 2.71 billion euros. Earnings also exceeded analysts' forecasts as the company maintained its 2013 outlook.
France Telecom SA climbed 2.7 percent to 8.01 euros. The country's largest phone company said it will focus on cutting costs this year as competition from Iliad SA forced phone bills down. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell 9 percent to 3.12 billion euros.
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