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European stocks erased losses in the final minutes of trading as Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said the U.S. central bank should continue its bond-buying program.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 309.99 at the close, having earlier lost as much as 0.7 percent.
Bullard, speaking in Frankfurt as European equity markets closed, said the Fed should continue its bond purchases because markets indicate they are improving financial conditions. The program can be adjusted based on how the economy changes, said Bullard, who votes on the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year. Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke will discuss the economic outlook in congressional testimony tomorrow, as the bank also publishes minutes of its last policy meeting.
National benchmark indexes increased in 11 of the 18 western European markets.
FTSE 100 6,803.87 +48.24 +0.71% CAC 40 4,036.18 +13.33 +0.33% DAX 8,472.2 +16.37 +0.19%
Marks & Spencer advanced 6.2 percent to 467.9 pence, the highest since January 2008. The U.K.'s biggest clothing retailer said it will reduce capital spending to 775 million pounds ($1.2 billion) this year and 550 million pounds next year.
Burberry jumped 5.3 percent to 1,541 pence, the highest since April 2012. The company reported full-year profit that beat estimates, boosted by strong demand in China and Hong Kong, and increased the dividend by more than analysts expected.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world's biggest mining company, advanced 3 percent to 1,982 pence. Rio Tinto Group, the second-largest, climbed 2.6 percent to 2,979 pence. Polymetal International Plc, Russian gold and silver producer, jumped 8.4 percent to 669 pence for the biggest gain since the shares started trading in London in 2011.
Carnival dropped 5.9 percent to 2,267 pence in London after the cruise operator lowered its profit forecast for the second half of 2013, saying price cuts undertaken after a series of mishaps will hurt margins.
Sonova Holding AG, the world's largest maker of hearing aids, retreated 1,1 percent to 103.50 Swiss francs after saying profit growth will slow. Earnings before interest, taxes and acquisition-related amortization and impairments will rise by 9 percent to 13 percent in local currencies this fiscal year, compared with a 15 percent jump in the 12 months ended March, the company said.
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