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24.12.2013 18:20

European stocks close

Most European stocks advanced amid shortened trading hours for Christmas Eve and before a report on U.S. new-house sales. U.S. index futures and Asian shares were little changed.

European stocks yesterday completed their biggest four-day rally since April after the International Monetary Fund said it will raise its forecast for U.S. economic growth. The Stoxx 600 has gained 16 percent this year, putting it on course for its best annual performance since 2009, as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England pledged to leave interest rates near record lows for a prolonged period.

U.S. GDP will probably accelerate in 2014, according to economists’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg, while the euro area will return to growth after two years of contraction. Japan may expand for a third year, the forecasts show.

Boskalis advanced 2.7 percent to 38.22 euros. The company said its Dockwise business has won a contract to transport equipment from China and Malaysia to Chevron Corp.’s Wheatstone project in Western Australia. Separately, Het Financieele Dagblad reported that Boskalis has started talks to buy Fairmount Marine BV. The newspaper cited a company spokesman.

Bankia added 1 percent to 1.17 euros. The lender said after markets closed yesterday that it has reached an agreement with an unidentified buyer to cede its stakes in a portfolio of venture-capital firms. It disclosed no financial details.

British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, the U.K.’s largest pay-TV provider, rose 2.5 percent to 833 pence. The Daily Mail cited speculation that Vodafone Group Plc may bid for BSkyB to bundle its mobile-phone services with the satellite TV company’s broadband, TV and landline products. Vodafone’s shares added 0.2 percent to 236.5 pence.

Publicis Groupe SA climbed 0.8 percent to 65.06 euros after the advertising agency said that Lagardere SCA has bought its 49 percent stake in a media business. Regie 1 is the media agency for Lagardere’s radio station, Europe 1.

Market Focus

  • US nonfarm payrolls rise more than expected in July
  • Canada’s merchandise trade deficit widens in June
  • Canada unemployment rate falls to lowest level since October 2008
  • Canada Ivey PMI falls less than expected in July
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