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European stocks increased for a fifth day, their longest stretch of gains in 11 weeks, bolstered by merger and acquisition activity. U.S. stock index futures and Asian shares were little changed.
The benchmark Stoxx 600 rose 0.3 percent to 297.48 at 10:42 a.m. in London, extending its gain this week to 3.2 percent, as Alcoa Inc. started the U.S. earnings season with better-than-estimated results and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the economy still needs stimulus.
European Central Bank executive board member Vitor Constancio said that the euro area’s slow economic recovery “implies that monetary policy has to stay accommodative for a longer period of time.” The U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan indicated this week they will continue monetary stimulus.
In China, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei signaled the world’s second-biggest economy may expand less than the government’s target this year and that growth as low as 6.5 percent may be tolerable in the future.
While the government in March set a 2013 growth goal of 7.5 percent, Lou said he’s confident of achieving a 7 percent rate this year. He spoke yesterday at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Invensys jumped 15 percent to 504.5 pence after Schneider Electric, the world’s largest maker of low- and medium-voltage equipment, offered to pay 505 pence a share for the British company. The bid comprises 319 pence in cash and 186 pence in new Schneider shares. Invensys said it indicated to the French company that it will probably recommend the offer. Schneider fell 3.7 percent to 55.94 euros in Paris.
RWE increased 0.8 percent to 22.71 euros. The Wall Street Journal reported the German utility is in talks with the Qatar Investment Authority about selling its Dea oil-and-gas business, which has been valued at 4 billion ($5.2 billion) to 7 billion euros. The newspaper cited two people familiar with the matter.
Swedish Match AB gained 2.7 percent to 249 kronor in Stockholm. The Daily Mail reported speculation that Imperial Tobacco Group Plc may make a bid of 350 kronor ($52.51) a share for the maker of smokeless-tobacco products. The newspaper did not cite anyone.
Phoenix Group Holdings, the U.K.’s biggest manager of closed life-insurance funds, jumped 7.1 percent to 699.5 pence after saying it is in preliminary talks to combine with Swiss Re Ltd.’s Admin Re unit.
FTSE 100 6,577.48 +34.07 +0.52%
CAC 40 3,882.44 +13.46 +0.35%
DAX 8,235.67 +76.87 +0.94%
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