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06.02.2014 18:23

European stocks close

Stocks in Europe rose for a second day as the European Central Bank held interest rates at a record low and companies including Daimler AG and Volvo AB posted earnings that beat estimates.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 1.5 percent to 322.77 at the close of trading, for its biggest advance since Dec. 19. The benchmark has fallen 1.7 percent so far this year amid a selloff in emerging-market currencies, signs of slowing economic growth in China and reduced stimulus from the Federal Reserve.

The ECB kept its key interest rate at 0.25 percent today, as forecast by all except four of 66 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Speaking after the announcement, ECB President Mario Draghi reiterated that the bank will take action if the outlook for inflation worsens or money-market turbulence resumes.

Inflation in the 18-nation euro area unexpectedly slowed to 0.7 percent last month, matching the slowest rate since 2009 and less than half the ECB’s goal of just under 2 percent.

In the U.S., a Labor Department report showed jobless claims dropped by 20,000 to 331,000 in the period ended Feb. 1. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 335,000.

National benchmark indexes climbed in every western-European market today. Germany’s DAX gained 1.5 percent, France’s CAC 40 added 1.7 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 1.6 percent.

Daimler climbed 2.6 percent to 62.48 euros. The third-largest maker of luxury vehicles said earnings before interest and taxes from ongoing operations rose to 2.53 billion euros ($3.42 billion) from 1.74 billion euros a year earlier. That beat the 2.37 billion-euro average estimate of 15 analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue gained 7.6 percent to 32.1 billion euros on demand for the new Mercedes-Benz CLA coupe and revamped flagship S-Class sedan.

Volvo advanced 4.6 percent to 89.40 kronor. The world’s second-biggest truckmaker reported fourth-quarter operating profit of 3.08 billion kronor ($471 million), exceeding analysts’ projections for 2.04 billion kronor. Volvo also said it will fire 4,400 employees, extending a previously announced reduction of 2,000 jobs. The majority of the cuts will take place in 2014.

Alcatel-Lucent jumped 9.2 percent, the most since Oct. 31, to 3.31 euros. The Paris-based company posted net income of 134 million euros, compared with a 1.56 billion-euro loss a year earlier. It also got a binding offer from China Huaxin for its business that sells telecommunications equipment and services. Alcatel will keep a 15 percent stake in the unit.

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