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European stocks advanced, extending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index's highest level since June 2008, as the region's carmakers rallied.
The Stoxx 600 rose 0.3 percent to 309.77 at the close of trading. The gauge rallied 1.2 percent last week, reaching its highest level since June 2008, as the Bank of England lifted its growth forecast for Europe's third-biggest economy.
Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke testifies on the outlook for the U.S. economy to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on May 22. The Fed will release the minutes of its April 30 to May 1 policy meeting on the same day.
National benchmark indexes gained in seven of the 12 western-European markets that opened today.
FTSE 100 6,755.63 +32.57 +0.48% CAC 40 4,022.85 +21.58 +0.54% DAX 8,455.83 +57.83 +0.69%
Rheinmetall AG gained 4 percent to 39.62 euros after Deutsche Bank raised the maker of automotive parts to hold from sell. The brokerage forecast that European automakers will produce more cars and trucks in the second half of this year.
Ryanair (RYA) soared 6.9 percent to 6.77 euros, its biggest rally since September 2011, after reporting that net income rose to 569 million euros ($732 million) in the 12 months through March 31 from 503 million euros a year earlier. That beat the 560 million-euro average estimate of analysts. Revenue climbed 13 percent to 4.33 billion euros. The company also said that it will use more of its planes than usual next winter, increasing its number of passengers for the year to 81.5 million. That will lift its earnings to as much as 600 million euros.
EasyJet Plc (EZJ), Europe's second-largest low-cost carrier, rose 4 percent to 1,235 pence.
Impregilo SpA surged 15 percent to 3.41 euros, its largest rally in more than five years, after winning a 1.7 billion-euro contract to build a line of the Doha metro in Qatar.
FirstGroup Plc (FGP) slumped 30 percent to 155.6 pence, the biggest drop since at least 1995, after the operator of buses and trains said it will not pay a dividend. The company also announced a 615 million-pound ($936 million) capital increase through a rights offer.
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