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European stocks advanced, after posting a monthly decline, as investors awaited U.S. manufacturing data. U.S. stock-index futures were little changed, while Asian shares rose.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.3 percent to 335.36 at 10:20 a.m. in London. The benchmark gauge fell 1.1 percent in March amid tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine’s Crimea region.
A report may show manufacturing in the world’s biggest economy expanded in March. The Institute for Supply Management’s index rose to 54 from 53.2 in February, according to the median forecast of economists. Readings above 50 signal expansion.
Growth in euro-area manufacturing activity stayed close to the highest level in almost three years in March, according to data released today. An index based on a survey of purchasing managers slipped to 53.0 from 53.2 February, matching an initial estimate released last week, London-based Markit Economics Ltd. said. The index has stayed above 50 since July.
Two factory reports signaled weakness in China, the world’s biggest commodity consumer. A purchasing managers’ index by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics fell to 48 in March, the lowest reading since July, from 48.5 in February. Another PMI from the government, with a larger sample size, stood at 50.3 from 50.2 the previous month.
Alstom advanced 7 percent to 21.21 euros after the French maker of trains and power-generation equipment agreed to sell an auxiliary components unit to Triton for an enterprise value of about 730 million euros ($1 billion).
Metso jumped 18 percent to 28.09 euros after the Times reported Weir Group may be willing to pay as much as 30 euros a share for the Finnish operation. The companies have been in informal talks, the newspaper reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter. Weir Group declined 2.3 percent to 2,479 pence.
BHP Billiton Ltd. added 2.8 percent to 1,895.5 pence after saying that it is looking to simplify its operations to focus on iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum. The world’s biggest mining company is considering options including spinning off aluminum, nickel and bauxite assets in a A$20 billion ($18.5 billion) transaction, the Australian Financial Review reported.
ICAP rose 2.9 percent to 388.7 pence. Revenue at ICAP’s global broking division fell 14 percent in February and March compared to the same period last year, the London-based firm said in a statement. The company said estimates for its full-year profit range between 266 million pounds ($443 million) and 280 million pounds, according to a poll of 11 analysts by the company. It reports full-year results on May 14.
Cap Gemini SA (CAP) dropped 1.2 percent to 54.29 euros. Bank of America Corp. cut the French competitor to International Business Machines Corp. to underperform from neutral, meaning investors should sell the shares. The bank cited an unattractive risk/reward relationship, the stock’s high valuation and signs of pricing pressure. Cap Gemini trades at 15.4 times estimated earnings, compared with an average 14.3 in the past five years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Osram Licht AG declined 1.5 percent to 46.35 euros. The lighting manufacturer said traditional-lamp sales continued to decline in the first two months of the recent quarter.
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