German Stocks Rise as Economy Contracts Less Than Expected

German stocks gained as the economy shrank less than forecast, adding to signs it may avoid a recession.

TUI AG (TUI1) rose 3.5 percent to its highest since July after selling a stake in Hapag-Lloyd AG. Puma AG, Europe’s second-largest sporting goods maker, gained after saying net income in 2011 jumped, helping rival Adidas AG (ADS) climb to a record. Infineon Technologies AG (IFX) gained 3.5 percent.

Germany’s benchmark DAX Index (DAX) added 0.4 percent to 6,757.94 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Frankfurt. Twenty-two stocks climbed and eight fell. The wider HDAX benchmark index rose 0.5 percent. European stocks pared gains after Reuters reported that policy makers are pondering ways to delay a second bailout for Greece.

“Investors are taking courage from better-than-expected economic data,” said Luis Benguerel, trader at Interbrokers in Barcelona. “While growth is what may offset the ongoing sovereign-debt crisis, let’s not forget that the problems remain and seem louder every day.”

The German economy shrank less than economists forecast in the fourth quarter. Gross domestic product in Europe’s largest economy, adjusted for seasonal effects, fell 0.2 percent from the third quarter, when it increased 0.6 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said today. Economists forecast a 0.3 percent decline, according to the median of 43 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

Euro Economy

The euro-area economy contracted 0.3 percent from the prior three months, the first drop since the second quarter of 2009, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Economists forecast a drop of 0.4 percent, the median of 42 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey showed. In the year, the euro-area economy grew 0.7 percent.

Finance ministers may delay a second aid package for Greece until after the country’s elections in April to gain stronger political support for budget cuts, Reuters reported, citing several EU sources it didn’t identify.

TUI rose 3.5 percent to 6.43 euros. The Hannover, Germany-based company agreed to sell a 17.4 percent stake in Hapag-Lloyd to Albert Ballin for 475 million euros ($624 million), leaving it with 22 percent of the shipping unit, it said in a statement late yesterday.

The owner of Europe’s largest travel company posted today a wider operating loss in the first quarter because of unrest in North Africa. The underlying operating loss widened to 147.3 million euros in the three months through December from 119.6 million euros in the year-earlier period.

Adidas Record

Puma added 3.1 percent to 247.25 euros after it reported today that its fourth-quarter net income more than doubled to 33.1 million euros. Adidas gained 2.6 percent to 59.26 euros.

Infineon gained 3.5 percent to 7.35 euros after it was raised to “add” from “buy” at Commerzbank AG by analyst Thomas Becker. Commerzbank doesn’t see “any substantial risk for Infineon’s operational business or the ability to return cash” from pending claims of Qimonda AG’s insolvency administrator, the bank said in a report distributed today.

Infineon fell 4.3 percent yesterday after saying the insolvency administrator of its former unit wants a payment of at least 1.71 billion euros plus interest.

ThyssenKrupp AG fell 2.4 percent to 20.56 euros. Germany’s largest steelmaker said it’s hiring Reinhold Achatz of Siemens AG as head of corporate center, innovation and quality. ThyssenKrupp hired Heinrich Hiesinger, who has sat on Siemens’s management board, as chief executive officer in January 2011, fuelling speculation the two companies may move closer together.

K+S AG (SDF) gained 1.8 percent to 40.19 euros. Europe’s largest potash maker rose 1.1 percent yesterday after it was added to WestLB AG’s large cap conviction list.

To contact the reporter on this story: Konstantin Riffler in Frankfurt at kriffler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net.

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