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European stocks rose for a second day, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posting its biggest two-day gain in three weeks, as auto companies climbed.
The Stoxx 600 added 0.7 percent. The benchmark index has rallied 2 percent in the past two days, after falling 4 percent through March 24 as tension grew between the West and Russia over Ukraine. The measure is still heading for a 2.1 percent drop this month, its biggest monthly decline since June.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks today on what the standoff with Russia over Ukraine means for European security, as the former Soviet republic holds bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund. The U.S. and the European Union imposed sanctions on Russian officials and threatened more if President Vladimir Putin fails to ease the crisis.
In the U.S., Commerce Department data showed durable-goods orders rose 2.2 percent in February, beating economists’ forecasts for a 0.8 percent gain.
A gauge of German consumer confidence will remain at a seven-year high in April, Nuremberg-based GfK AG said today. The research company estimated that its index will hold at 8.5 next month, unchanged from March.
National benchmark indexes rose in 16 of the 18 western-European markets.
FTSE 100 6,605.3 +0.41 +0.01% CAC 40 4,385.15 +41.03 +0.94% DAX 9,448.58 +110.18 +1.18%
Peugeot added 3.1 percent to 13.06 euros. The carmaker got more than 120,000 orders in a year for its 2008 crossover model, while orders for its 308 vehicle stand at 65,000, La Tribune newspaper reported, citing an unidentified person at the company.
Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest automaker, rose 1.4 percent to 183.55 euros. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG advanced 1.3 percent to 90.58 euros. A gauge of European auto stocks posted the best performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600.
Standard Life jumped 6.7 percent to 399 pence after Scotland’s biggest insurer said its Standard Life Investments unit is buying Ignis Asset Management from Phoenix for 390 million pounds ($645 million). Phoenix rose 4.7 percent to 743.5 pence.
Airbus Group NV advanced 1.3 percent to 52.69 euros after Les Echos reported it is extending its partnership with Aviation Industry Corporation of China. The aircraft manufacturer and Avic plan to produce 1,000 EC175 helicopters over the next 20 years, according to the report, which didn’t cite anyone.
Mediaset SpA climbed 3.9 percent to 4.03 euros after the broadcaster controlled by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi posted a return to profit for 2013. Net income last year totaled 8.9 million euros ($12.3 million) after a net loss in 2012. Sales fell 8.2 percent to 3.41 billion euros, compared with the 3.44 billion-euro average of analyst estimates.
William Hill Plc increased 2.8 percent to 348.9 pence. HSBC Holdings Plc upgraded the bookmaker to overweight, the equivalent of a buy rating, from underweight, saying that the prospect of further regulatory change has now been priced in to the shares, while its online operations are growing.
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