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25.04.2013 17:20

European stock close:

European stocks advanced for a fifth day, their longest rally this year, as data showed the U.K. avoided a triple-dip recession and as companies including British American Tobacco Plc (BATS) reported results.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.8 percent to 296.88 at the close, its highest price since April 2. The measure has rallied 4.1 percent so far this week as company earnings beat forecasts and investors speculated the European Central Bank will cut interest rates.

National benchmark indexes advanced in 13 of the 18 western European markets.

FTSE 100 6,442.59 +10.83 +0.17% CAC 40 3,840.47 -2.47 -0.06% DAX 7,832.86 +73.83 +0.95%

Britain avoided a triple-dip recession as the economy expanded more than forecast. Gross domestic product rose 0.3 percent in the first quarter after contracting 0.3 percent in the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said. The median estimate of economists had called for a 0.1 percent gain.

BAT climbed 1.2 percent to 3,591 pence. Europe's largest cigarette maker said first-quarter sales excluding currency swings rose 5 percent. That beat the 3.7 percent average estimate of analysts.

Vodafone added 1.7 percent to 196.4 pence after Reuters reported that Verizon has hired advisers to prepare a possible $100 billion cash-and-stock offer to buy out Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless. Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, declined to comment.

Nobel Biocare (NOBN) Holding AG jumped 13 percent to 10.70 Swiss francs, its largest increase since October 2011. The world's second-biggest maker of dental implants posted first-quarter net income of 13.3 million euros, exceeding the 11.7 million euros projected by analysts.

Elementis Plc rose 5.9 percent to 261.9 pence, for the biggest increase since February, as the company said sales of specialty products grew 7 percent in the first quarter.

Unilever fell 3 percent to 2,760 pence in London after the world's second-biggest consumer-goods company reported the slowest quarterly revenue growth in two years. So-called underlying sales, which exclude acquisitions, disposals and currency swings, rose 4.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. The median analyst estimate had projected a gain of 5.5 percent.

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