European Stocks Advance; Banks Gain, Nokia Declines

European stocks rose as German business confidence unexpectedly gained and U.S. companies from General Electric Co. to Schlumberger Ltd. reported earnings that beat estimates, offsetting higher yields on Spanish bonds.

A gauge of European banks was among the best performers of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600. Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) and Commerzbank AG, Germany’s largest lenders, advanced more than 1.5 percent. William Hill Plc (WMH) climbed to its highest price since May, 2008 as Oriel Securities Ltd. upgraded its recommendation for the stock. Nokia Oyj slid 4.4 percent after losing a patent lawsuit ruling in a German court.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.5 percent to 257.79 at the close of trading for a 1.7 percent weekly gain, snapping four consecutive weeks of losses. The measure has lost 2.1 percent so far in April on renewed concern that the euro area’s sovereign-debt crisis will worsen.

“There seems to be a tug-of-war between better first- quarter corporate earnings sending a positive signal and concern regarding the European (SXXP) debt crisis as a negative,” said Manish Singh, the London-based head of investment at Crossbridge Capital, which has more than $2 billion under management. “There is a clear lack of conviction in the market. For every piece of good news, there is always a negative that overrides it. Worries about Europe still hang as a spectre, ready to fall without a warning.”

The Stoxx 600 fell 0.5 percent yesterday, after U.S. reports showed sales of previously owned houses dropped unexpectedly and more American than forecast filed for unemployment benefits.

German Confidence

In Germany, a report showed that business confidence unexpectedly rose to a nine-month high in April. The Ifo institute’s business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, increased to 109.9 from 109.8 in March. Economists had forecast a drop to 109.5, according to the median of 40 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

The yield on the 10-year Spanish bond climbed four basis points to 5.96 percent after reaching 6.04 percent.

The G-20 cited “the situation in Europe” first in a list of drags on the world economy, according to a draft statement obtained by Bloomberg News.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is seeking more than $400 billion in new reserves to increase a lending capacity of about $380 billion and this week won promises of support from Japan to Denmark.

“Countries have to take measures,” Lagarde told Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness With Margaret Brennan” in Washington. “I am in charge of improving the stability and I need to have the umbrella in case the clouds break into a nasty rain.”

National Benchmarks

National benchmark indexes gained in 16 of the 18 western- European markets. France’s CAC 40 rose 0.5 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 increased 0.5 percent and Germany’s DAX added 1.2 percent.

General Electric, the U.S. maker of aircraft engines and provider of financial services, and Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield-services provider, reported first-quarter earnings that topped analyst estimates.

A gauge of European banks was among the best performers of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG (CBK), Germany’s largest lenders, gained 1.7 percent to 34.48 euros, and 2.3 percent to 1.64 euros, respectively. KBC Groep NV (KBC) jumped 1.9 percent to 14.03 euros.

BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, gained 3.7 percent to 29.61 euros after Bank of America Corp. raised the stock to neutral, the equivalent of hold, from underperform. Societe Generale SA (GLE), the country’s second-biggest, added 3.5 percent to 17.30 euros. It was upgraded to buy from neutral.

William Hill Gains

William Hill increased 4.3 percent to 278.3 pence, its highest price since May 2008. First-quarter net revenue jumped 12 percent from a year earlier, adding it remains “confident” in its expectations for the full year.

Separately, Oriel Securities Ltd. raised the company’s shares to hold from reduce.

IMI Plc (IMI) rallied 1.9 percent to 992 pence after the engineering company said first-half results will be in line with forecasts and added it was “optimistic” it will make further progress this year.

Home Retail Group Plc (HOME) advanced 3.9 percent to 103.5 pence as U.K. retail sales rose more than forecast last month. Marks & Spencer Group Plc (MKS) gained 2 percent to 362.6 pence.

Waertsilae Oyj, the world’s biggest maker of ship motors and power plants, rose 3.1 percent to 28.90 euros as its service business reached record sales in the first quarter.

Nokia Lawsuit

Nokia dropped 4.4 percent to 2.79 euros, its lowest price since January 1997. The company lost a ruling in a German court today in a patent lawsuit brought by IPCom GmbH & Co., which is seeking to force Nokia (NOK1V) to pay royalties for a portfolio of mobile-technology patents it acquired from Robert Bosch GMbH in 2007.

A gauge of technology shares was the worst-performing group in the Stoxx 600. Infineon Technologies AG (IFX) lost 0.6 percent to 7.63 euros and Alcatel-Lucent retreated 2.3 percent to 1.42 euros. Logitech International SA, the world’s largest maker of computer mice, dropped 2.2 percent to 7.18 Swiss francs.

Cable & Wireless Worldwide Plc (CW/) fell 5.9 percent to 32 pence after Bank of America Corp. analyst Wilton Fry said any Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) offer for the U.K. fixed-line network operator is likely to bid lower than the market is implying. Vodafone got a third deadline extension until midday April 23 to make a bid for the company.

Supergroup Plc (SGP) slumped 38 percent to 351.8 pence, the most since its initial public offering in March 2010, after the owner of the Superdry brand lowered profit guidance for the third time in about six months. Profit will be reduced by about 2.5 million pounds ($4 million) due to “arithmetic errors” in forecasting wholesales business, the retailer said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net

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

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