Home Europe Europe shares hold gains as US claims fall – MarketWatch

Europe shares hold gains as US claims fall – MarketWatch


By William L. Watts, MarketWatch

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) — European stocks traded near session highs Thursday as Wall Street appeared set to extend a historical winning streak after first-time claims for U.S. jobless benefits unexpectedly fell and wholesale prices rose in line with expectations.


The Stoxx 600 Europe Index

/quotes/zigman/2380150 XX:SXXP

rose 0.7% to 297.43 and traded as high as 297.63, its highest level since June 2008.

“Equities resumed their upward trend in early trade this morning following a ninth consecutive up day for the Dow 30. Inevitably there will be much chatter today about the index potentially extending its winning streak to double digits,” said Matt Basi, head of U.K. sales trading at CMC Markets UK.

Banks and financials led the way higher, with insurer Prudential PLC

/quotes/zigman/13780 UK:PRU

 rising 3% to add to the previous day’s strong gain on the back of earnings results, while index heavyweight HSBC Holdings PLC

/quotes/zigman/13843 UK:HSBA

/quotes/zigman/207333/quotes/nls/hbc HBC

/quotes/zigman/13834 HK:5

advanced 1.5%.

The number of people applying for first-time U.S. jobless benefits fell by 10,000 to 332,000 in the week ended March 9—the second lowest level in five years. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a rise to 350,000.

Separately, data showed the producer price index rose 0.7% in February, matching expectations. U.S. stock index futures extended gains.

Closer to home for European investors, European Union leaders prepared for a summit meeting due to get under way in Brussels on Thursday. Euro-zone finance ministers are scheduled to meet Friday to further discuss a bailout for Cyprus.

“I think a bailout program is fully priced into the markets at the moment but I think investors will be looking for some reassurance on the matter, given Greece’s exposure to the country and the potential for a run on the banks in Cyprus if lenders attempt to force losses on depositors,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari in London.

U.S. stocks ended slightly higher Wednesday, with the Dow

/quotes/zigman/627449 DJIA

extending its win streak, making it the longest such run in 16 years.

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BNP Paribas SA

/quotes/zigman/132292 FR:BNP

rose 2.4%, while France’s CAC 40 stock index

/quotes/zigman/3173214 FR:PX1

added 0.8% to 3,866.40.

Italy’s FTSE MIB stock index

/quotes/zigman/1482176 XX:FTSEMIB

bucked recent weakness to rise 1.8%, with shares of Assicurazioni Generali SpA

/quotes/zigman/171445 IT:G

up more than 7%.

Generali rose after reporting that net profit for the year dropped by around 89%, with the results reflecting large fourth-quarter impairments as new Chief Executive Mario Greco moved to clean up the company’s balance sheet.


“We are simplifying our structure and adopting a more disciplined approach to managing the Group and its investments, as we refocus on our insurance business,” Greco said in a statement.

Germany’s DAX stock index

/quotes/zigman/2380246 DX:DAX

advanced1.1% to 8,055.85. Shares of HeidelbergCement AG

/quotes/zigman/146868 DE:HEI

rose 4.1% after the company said it was aiming for higher revenue and operating income this year, boosted by demand in Asia, Africa and the U.S.

Shares of steelmaker ArcelorMittal

/quotes/zigman/488292 NL:MT

/quotes/zigman/488293 FR:MT

/quotes/zigman/489094/quotes/nls/mt MT

rose 2.8% in Amsterdam after analysts at Citibank upgraded its stock to buy from neutral.

“We believe there is now an opportunity to buy into the first potential steps towards a strategic overhaul for the company — dealing with the languishing European business,” the analysts said in a research note.

“Ultimately we would favor a separation of the European assets from the rest of the group, to aid consolidation in the region and give investors exposure to the stronger businesses in the company,” they said.

London’s FTSE 100 stock index

/quotes/zigman/3173262 UK:UKX

rose 0.4% to 6,508.37.

Other heavyweight gainers in London included telecom firm Vodafone Group PLC

/quotes/zigman/421253 UK:VOD

, which added 0.9%, while Barclays PLC

/quotes/zigman/301787 UK:BARC

gained 1.3% and grocer Tesco PLC

/quotes/zigman/156634 UK:TSCO

advanced 1.7%.

Natural resource firms lost ground, with Rio Tinto PLC

/quotes/zigman/155899 UK:RIO

off 1.6%.





















Europe shares hold gains as US claims fall – MarketWatch

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