European stocks gained, extending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s highest level since June 2008, as companies including ArcelorMittal (MT) and BT Group Plc posted better-than-expected results and German exports increased in March. U.S. index futures and most Asian shares advanced.
ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, climbed the most in almost eight months. BT jumped to its highest price since November 2007 as fourth-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates. Assicurazioni Generali (G) SpA, Italy’s largest insurer, rose 1.7 percent after posting quarterly profit that exceeded estimates. ABB Ltd. dropped after the world’s biggest maker of power transformers said its chief executive officer resigned.
The Stoxx 600 added 0.5 percent to 305.22 at 10:51 a.m. in London. The gauge is heading toward a 1.4 percent gain this week as companies posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said policy makers are ready to cut interest rates if needed.
“There are still good reasons for markets to be happy,” said Pierre Mouton, who helps oversee $6 billion as a portfolio manager at Notz, Stucki & Cie. in Geneva. “It starts with the U.S. where even though we had a soft patch, expansion is confirmed and employment improves continually. While German imports came in lower than expected, investors may be relieved the numbers weren’t as bad as in the previous month. The ECB’s commitment to ensure that no disruption happens on the banking side in Europe has given renewed confidence to investors.”
The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 23 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Contracts on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.2 percent. The U.S. benchmark gauge retreated yesterday, following five successive records for the index, as Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser said he favors scaling back the central banks’ pace of stimulus. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.2 percent, while about two stocks rose for each one that fell.
German exports rose in March, adding to signs that Europe’s largest economy is starting to recover from a contraction at the end of last year.
Exports, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, advanced 0.5 percent from February, when they dropped 1.2 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. The increase matched the median forecast of 16 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Imports rose 0.8 percent from February, missing the 1.5 percent gain economists had predicted.
ArcelorMittal jumped 6.3 percent to 10.31 euros. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell to $1.57 billion in the first three months of the year from $2.12 billion a year earlier, ArcelorMittal said. That beat the $1.32 billion median estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
BT (BT/A) surged 12 percent to 309 pence. The U.K.’s largest fixed-line phone company reported fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as it added more customers to its high-speed Internet service to compensate for declining landlines.
Adjusted Ebitda rose 4 percent to 1.67 billion pounds ($2.58 billion) in the quarter ending in March. Analysts had projected 1.62 billion pounds in a Bloomberg survey.
Generali added 1.7 percent to 14.77 euros, its highest price since July 2011, after saying first-quarter profit rose 6.3 percent as earnings at its non-life insurance business increased. Net income in the three months to March climbed to 603 million euros ($786 million) from 567 million euros a year earlier, the Italian company said. That beat the 561.4 million-euro average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
ABB (ABBN) lost 1.3 percent to 21.27 Swiss francs after announcing that CEO Joe Hogan will leave the company for private reasons. Hogan, who joined ABB in 2008, will continue in the role until a replacement is appointed.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) declined 3.6 percent to 270.4 pence. The parent of British Airways said its first-quarter loss widened on currency fluctuations, and it took a 311 million-euro charge against job cuts at Spanish unit Iberia. IAG posted an operating loss of 278 million euros, excluding one-time items. Analysts had predicted a loss of 250 million euros.
Gemalto NV (GTO) dropped 4.1 percent to 57.70 euros, posting the worst performance on the Stoxx 600, after Morgan Stanley said expectations for the smart card maker to report organic growth of 9 percent to 12 percent in 2013 to 2015 are too high, given that it reported estimated organic growth of 3.5 percent in the last five years.
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