European stocks rose, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index paring its fourth weekly drop, as worse-than-forecast U.S. economic data fueled investor speculation that central banks won’t immediately pare stimulus measures.
Elan Corp. jumped 8.4 percent in Dublin after authorizing the process of its sale. Hochtief AG gained the most in four months after the German builder said it will buy as much as 260 million euros ($346 million) of its own shares. Michelin & Cie, Europe’s largest tiremaker, added 4.7 percent after data on its website showed tire demand surged in Brazil last month. Barry Callebaut AG (BARN) lost 3.4 percent after the maker of bulk chocolate sold about $302 million of new shares.
The Stoxx 600 added 0.2 percent to 291.13 at the close of trading. The equity benchmark still dropped 1.5 percent this week, for the longest stretch of weekly losses in 14 months. It has retreated 6.3 percent since May 22, when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank could pare stimulus if the U.S. economy improves sustainably.
“All the known risks have been priced into the market now,” said Michael Woischneck, who oversees about $534 million as senior equities manager at Lampe Asset Management in Dusseldorf, Germany. “The move has not terrified us and I don’t think we’ll go much lower. I might be a bit more interested in what Bernanke may say next week. I’ll be looking to see whether all options, including more stimulus, are still on the table.”
The Fed will hold its two-day policy meeting next week, with Bernanke scheduled to speak after the central bank’s decision on June 19. Bernanke will deliver his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress on July 17 and 18.
The International Monetary Fund said it sees the Fed maintaining bond purchases until the end of 2013. Unwinding a policy of record-low interest rates and $85 billion in monthly bond-buying will be challenging even though the Fed has “a range of tools” to withdraw the stimulus, the IMF staff wrote in an annual assessment of the U.S. economy.
U.S. industrial production was unchanged in May, following a revised 0.4 decrease in the previous month, Federal Reserve figures showed. Economists had projected a 0.2 percent gain for last month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment dropped to 82.7 this month, from 84.5 that was the highest level since July 2007, another report showed.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 16 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 added less than 0.1 percent, France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX advanced 0.4 percent.
The VStoxx Index, a measure of volatility in the Euro Stoxx 50 Index, fell 3.8 percent today, after increasing 13 percent in the past three days.
Elan Corp. jumped 8.4 percent to 10.07 euros. The drugmaker said it has authorized a a formal sale process and invited Royalty Pharma to participate. Royalty has offered to buy Elan for $6.7 billion, a bid Elan’s board rejected this week.
Hochtief gained 5.9 percent to 51.75 euros, its biggest increase since Feb. 13. The company controlled by Spain’s Actividades de Construccion & Servicios SA plans to buy as many as 4.3 million shares over the next six months, representing about 5.6 percent of its capital.
Michelin and Pirelli & C. SpA advanced 4.7 percent to 69.63 euros and 3.3 percent to 9.27 euros, respectively. Passenger tire demand in Brazil surged 20 percent in May from a year earlier for original equipment and 15 percent in the replacement market, Michelin said on its website. Continental AG increased 1.9 percent to 100.80 euros.
Nokia Oyj rallied 4.7 percent to 2.75 euros, its biggest increase since February. Siemens AG has approached private-equity companies about a possible acquisition of Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture of the two companies, Dow Jones reported, citing unidentified sources.
Great Portland Estates Plc (GPOR) rose 3.9 percent to 548 pence, its biggest increase since January 2012. UBS AG raised its rating on the stock to buy from neutral, citing recent declines. Today’s gain reversed a weekly drop, which would have been the fourth consecutive week of losses.
A gauge of real estate-linked shares in Europe climbed the most in more than 11 months as a report showed home prices in England and Wales rose to a record in May. Land Securities Group Plc advanced 1.5 percent to 902 pence, while British Land Co. gained 2.1 percent to 595.5 pence today. Barratt Developments Plc added 3.5 percent to 310 pence.
Barry Callebaut slipped 3.4 percent to 862.5 Swiss francs. The supplier to Nestle SA said it sold 318,858 new shares at 875 francs a piece to partly finance the acquisition of Petra Foods Ltd.’s cocoa ingredients unit.
Holcim Ltd. (HOLN) lost 0.9 percent to 68.15 francs in Zurich. Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit cut its rating on the world’s largest cement maker to underperform, similar to a sell recommendation, from neutral. Merrill Lynch cited the company’s exposure to emerging markets.
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