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European stocks were little changed near a five-year high after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke signalled the central bank will maintain stimulus measures to support the U.S. economic recovery.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent to 310.59 at the close of trading. The gauge, which yesterday climbed to its highest level since June 2008, has rallied 97 percent since March 2009 as European Central Bank President Mario Draghi pledged to preserve the euro and the Federal Reserve embarked on three rounds of stimulus.
The U.S. economy remains hampered by high unemployment and government spending cuts, and tightening policy too soon would endanger the recovery, Bernanke said today in testimony prepared for a hearing at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress in Washington. The Fed chairman is leading the most aggressive economic stimulus in the central bank's 100-year history in an effort to spur growth in the world's largest economy and reduce an unemployment rate that stands at 7.5 percent.
In the U.K., Bank of England Governor Mervyn King was defeated for a fourth month in his bid to expand stimulus. Six members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted to keep quantitative easing at 375 billion pounds ($568 billion) this month, according to minutes from the BOE's May 8-9 meeting. King, David Miles and Paul Fisher backed increasing it by 25 billion pounds.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 13 of the 18 western European markets.
FTSE 100 6,840.27 +36.40 +0.53% CAC 40 4,051.11 +14.93 +0.37% DAX 8,530.89 +58.69 +0.69%
Metro jumped 10 percent to 27.34 euros, its biggest gain since November 2008. Morgan Stanley upgraded the retailer to overweight, the equivalent of a buy rating, from equal weight, and added the stock to its best ideas list, citing a possible reversal of declining cash and carry sales, the stabilization of Metro's MediaMarkt stores and potential disposals.
Britvic Plc (BVIC), the U.K. maker of Robinsons Barley Water, surged 11 percent to 522.5 pence, its highest price since at least 2005, after reporting first-half pretax profit of 37.5 million pounds, beating the average analyst estimate of 27.4 million pounds.
Lagardere SCA, France's largest publisher, advanced 3.4 percent to 28.75 euros after JPMorgan Chase & Co. upgraded the stock to neutral from underweight, citing its underperformance relative to other media shares.
Pandora tumbled 11 percent to 200 Danish kroner after Prometheus sold 13 million shares, raising 2.6 billion kroner ($451 million) in gross proceeds. Prometheus will retain a 40.9 percent stake in the company.
Wm Morrison Supermarkets (MRW) Plc lost 2.3 percent to 282.6 pence after UBS AG sold 103 million shares on behalf of an institutional seller at 280 pence each.
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