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25.11.2013 18:21

European stocks advanced

European stocks advanced, after posting their first weekly loss since October, as Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program.

Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for as much as $7 billion in relief from economic sanctions over six months. Iran and the six countries it has entered a pact with -- the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Russia and China -- aim to conclude a comprehensive deal during that time.

The accord is the first major breakthrough in the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program since 2003. Questions over the purpose of that plan had deepened the rift between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in the Middle East, sparked threats of military action by the U.S. and Israel, and raised concerns that the oil-rich region was heading for a nuclear arms race.

In the U.S., the number of contracts Americans signed to buy previously-owned homes unexpectedly fell in October for a fifth consecutive month. An index of pending home sales decreased 0.6 percent in October, following a revised 4.6 percent drop a month earlier, data from the National Association of Realtors showed. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey had called for a gain of 1 percent.

National benchmark indexes advanced in 15 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC 40 added 0.6 percent. Germany’s DAX jumped 0.9 percent.

A gauge of travel and leisure companies gained 1.6 percent for the biggest jump among 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. Brent crude futures fell as much as 2.7 percent today. IAG, the parent of British Airways, climbed 2.8 percent to 372.8 pence and Air France advanced 1.9 percent to 7.64 euros.

Peugeot gained 5.1 percent to 10.75 euros after two people familiar with the matter said the board approved hiring former Renault SA Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares to replace Philippe Varin as CEO. Varin, 61, plans to step down next year. Europe’s second-largest carmaker is also likely to benefit from the Iran accord. Peugeot sold 458,000 vehicles in Iran in 2011, before the trade sanctions, making it the company’s second-biggest market after France.

Renault, which sold more than 100,000 vehicles in Iran in 2012, added 1.4 percent to 65.33 euros.

Novartis AG advanced 0.8 percent to 72.75 Swiss francs after Natixis upgraded the shares to buy from neutral. The drugmaker’s progress in research for a breast-cancer treatment and the $5 billion share buyback announced last week will result in higher earnings, the brokerage said in a note.

Banco Popolare SC declined 4.2 percent to 1.28 euros and Unione di Banche Italiane SCPA slid 3.1 percent to 4.88 euros after Societe Generale SA reduced its 12-month price forecast on the shares.

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