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European stocks advanced as companies from ICAP Plc to European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. rallied after reporting earnings, offsetting German investor sentiment that gained less than forecast in May.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.4 percent to 305.66 at the close of trading, its highest level since June 2008.
German investor confidence rose in May less than forecast. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, increased to 36.4 from 36.3 in April. Economists forecast a gain to 40, according to the median of 38 estimates.
Finance chiefs from the 27 members of the European Union met today in Brussels to discuss plans to create a banking union for the region. The European Central Bank's Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen called today for the EU to create a central agency and a common backstop for handling failed banks by the "summer of next year."
National benchmark indexes advanced in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 added 0.8 percent, while France's CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent. Germany's DAX added 0.7 percent.
ICAP jumped 14 percent to 339.70 pence, the most since March 2009, as the world's largest broker of transactions between banks posted a full-year pretax profit before exceptional items of 284 million pounds ($433 million). That was higher than the 280 million pounds the company had forecast March 27.
EADS gained 3 percent to 42.44 euros as the Airbus SAS parent posted first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items of 741 million euros ($960 million), exceeding the 607 million euros projected by analysts in a Bloomberg survey.
Aurubis AG plunged 7.4 percent to 45.65 euros, its biggest decline since January 2011. The world's second-largest producer of refined copper posted second-quarter earnings before interest and taxes of 11 million euros, missing the average analyst forecast of 15.9 million euros.
Commerzbank AG declined 6.3 percent to 9.31 euros, its lowest price in more than two decades. Germany's second-biggest bank said it is offering the right to buy 20 shares for every 21 held by investors at 4.50 euros apiece. That equates to a 55 percent discount to yesterday's price, or 38 percent below the 7.28 euros a share theoretical price the stock would have following the offer. The shares will be offered from tomorrow until May 28, the bank said on its website.
GDF Suez SA, Europe's largest utility by market value, fell 0.9 percent to 16.58 euros, paring earlier losses of as much as 4.4 percent. Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA sold 65 million shares in GDF for 16.26 euros, less than yesterday's closing price.
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