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European stocks advanced to the highest level since June 2008 as a report showed U.S. employment in April picked up more than forecast and the jobless rate unexpectedly dropped to a four-year low.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 1 percent to 300.87 at 4:30 p.m. in London, extending its weekly rise to 1.7 percent. The gauge yesterday climbed to a seven-week high as the European Central Bank lowered its benchmark interest rate and companies posted better-than-expected earnings. The equity measure completed an 11th month of gains in April, its longest winning streak since 1997.
In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed that payrolls expanded by 165,000 workers last month following a revised 138,000 increase in March that was larger than first estimated. Economists on average had forecast a gain of 140,000 in April. Revisions to the prior two months' reports added a total of 114,000 jobs to the employment count in February and March. The jobless rate fell to 7.5 percent from 7.6 percent a month earlier. That's the lowest since December 2008. Economists had forecast that the rate will remain unchanged.
The European Commission said the euro-area economy will shrink more in 2013 than previously expected. Gross domestic product in the 17-nation region will decline 0.4 percent, compared with a February prediction of a 0.3 percent drop. This follows a 0.6 percent contraction in 2012 and shows the region headed for its first ever back-to-back years of falling output.
National benchmark indexes advanced in all western European markets. Greek markets were closed for Orthodox Easter.
FTSE 100 6,521.46 +60.75 +0.94% CAC 40 3,912.95 +54.19 +1.40% DAX 8,122.29 +160.58 +2.02%
Adidas advanced 7.4 percent to 85.40 euros. First-quarter net income of 308 million euros ($404 million) beat the average 298.5 million-euro analyst projection. The company also said its gross margin widened to a record.
Vallourec (VK) soared 11 percent to 40.08 euros, the most since November 2011. First-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization totalled 191 million euros, exceeding the average 178 million-euro analyst estimate.
CGGVeritas (CGG) surged 12 percent to 18.68 euros as the largest seismic surveyor of oilfields posted first-quarter net income of $79 million, following a loss of $3 million a year earlier. The Paris-based company said it expects a 25 percent-increase in full-year sales and positive cash flow.
Sky Deutschland AG, the German pay-TV provider controlled by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., climbed 7.4 percent to 4.84 euros after posting an unexpected operating profit in the first quarter. Analysts on average had predicted a loss.
RBS (RBS) dropped 6.1 percent to 288.5 pence, after Britain's biggest state-owned lender said operating profit fell to 829 million pounds ($1.3 billion) in the first quarter. That missed the 1.2 billion-pound estimate of analysts.
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