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European stocks rose for a sixth day, their longest winning streak this year, as companies from ING Groep NV (INGA) to Societe Generale SA (GLE) posted profit that beat estimates, and a report showed Chinese exports surged.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.7 percent to 331.85 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The equity benchmark has risen 4.5 percent since Feb. 4 as investors assessed when the Federal Reserve will announce the third reduction to its monthly bond-buying program. The gauge remains 1.3 percent below the six-year high it reached on Jan. 22.
In China, the General Administration of Customs said exports jumped 10.6 percent in January from a year earlier. That compared with the median projection of economists survey for a gain of 0.1 percent. Imports rose 10 percent, exceeding the 4 percent advance that economists had predicted.
A gauge of commodity producers posted the best performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest miner, added 1.3 percent to 3,506 pence, and Glencore Xstrata Plc rose 1.3 percent to 337.2 pence.
In the U.K., the Bank of England said in its quarterly economic outlook that it will leave its key interest rate at a record low even after the unemployment rate falls to the threshold level of 7 percent. A release last month showed the jobless rate slid to 7.1 percent in the three months through November, nearing the level at which Governor Mark Carney had said policy makers would consider increasing interest rates.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 11 of the 18 western-European markets.
FTSE 100 6,675.03 +2.37 +0.04% CAC 40 4,305.5 +22.18 +0.52% DAX 9,540 +61.23 +0.65%
ING rallied 3.7 percent to 10.55 euros. The Dutch lender posted fourth-quarter net income of 539 million euros ($733 million), exceeding the 254 million-euro average projection of analysts. Earnings at ING Bank more than tripled. Underlying net income rose 22 percent in 2013 to 3.26 billion euros, ING said.
Societe Generale jumped 5.1 percent to 46.52 euros. France’s second-largest bank posted fourth-quarter net income of 322 million euros as earnings climbed at its French and Russian consumer-lending units. Analysts on average had forecast 163 million euros of profit. The lender posted a loss of 471 million euros in the year-earlier period.
Norsk Hydro advanced 3.6 percent to 29.61 kroner after reporting fourth-quarter sales of 16.6 billion kroner ($2.7 billion). That beat the average analyst estimate of 15 billion kroner. The aluminum supplier also posted underlying earnings before interest and taxes of 483 million kroner.
Smurfit Kappa Group Plc jumped 5.1 percent to 19.02 euros. Chief Executive Officer Gary McGann said the packaging company will increase the price of its products this year as demand for some recycled items climbs. The maker of cardboard boxes said full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and some items rose 9 percent to 1.1 billion euros.
Faurecia (EO) SA surged 5.7 percent to 30.45 euros, its highest price since July 2011, as Europe’s biggest maker of car interiors said second-half operating profit rose 34 percent to 282 million euros.
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