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18.03.2014 18:00

European stocks close

European stocks rose, extending their biggest gain in two weeks, after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he isn’t seeking to split up Ukraine.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.6 percent to 327.93 at the close in London, after earlier falling as much as 0.5 percent. The gauge climbed 1.1 percent yesterday, rebounding from its biggest weekly loss since January.

Putin signaled that his country isn’t about to occupy eastern Ukraine after a March 16 Crimean referendum backed joining Russia by almost 97 percent. The U.S. and European Union imposed sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials and threatened further measures.

National benchmark indexes advanced in all of the 18 western-European markets. Germany’s DAX gained 0.7 percent, while France’s CAC added 1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent.

Kuoni climbed 8.2 percent to 409 Swiss francs. The company said 2013 earnings before interest and taxes rose to 154.2 million francs ($176.7 million), more than the 142.3 million francs analysts had projected. Kuoni added it plans to raise its dividend payout ratio to 40 percent to 45 percent from 30 percent to 35 percent.

Voestalpine AG gained 5.5 percent to 32.06 euros. The Austrian steelmaker said it will reduce costs by 900 million euros ($1.25 billion) in the next three years, adding it won’t cut jobs.

Cairn Energy slumped 14 percent to 168.2 pence, the lowest price since January 2004. The Scottish oil explorer said it is suspending its share repurchase program until an Indian tax issue is resolved. The company said in January authorities are auditing it for the year ended March 2007.

Scania fell 2.1 percent to 191.80 kronor. A board committee reviewing Volkswagen’s takeover offer said the bid was too low. The German company offered 6.7 billion euros for the Swedish truckmaker’s stock it doesn’t already own. The bid was 36 percent higher than Scania’s closing price on Feb. 21, when Volkswagen announced its plan for a full takeover. Volkswagen rose 0.1 percent to 180.40 euros.

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