European Stocks Climb as Investors Assess U.S. Employment

European stocks advanced, following their biggest rally in seven weeks, as investors assessed a report that showed the U.S. economy created fewer new jobs last month than forecast.

Statoil ASA (STL) added 5.7 percent after saying it will cut spending to increase cash flow. EMS-Chemie Holding AG advanced 3.8 percent after posting better-than-expected profit in 2013 and saying it will pay an extraordinary dividend. SBM Offshore NV, the Dutch supplier of floating oil and gas rigs, tumbled 12 percent for its largest decline since November 2012.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index increased 0.7 percent to 325.09 at the close of trading, taking its advance this week to 0.8 percent. The equity benchmark rallied 1.5 percent yesterday as the European Central Bank left interest rates at a record low. European stocks have still fallen 3.3 percent from their high on Jan. 22 amid a sell-off in emerging-market currencies and signs of slowing economic growth in China.

“The market is in a positive mood -- perhaps too positive -- and forgives worse-than-expected numbers more easily,” Thomas Lehr, an investment strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG in Zurich, said in a telephone interview. “Investors are likely to blame the numbers on the bad weather recently and not overrate today’s data, while waiting for next month’s report to get a clearer picture.”

In the U.S., a Labor Department report in Washington showed that the unemployment rate unexpectedly slipped to 6.6 percent in January, its lowest in more than five years. The release also showed that employers in the world’s biggest economy increased their payrolls by 113,000 workers last month. That missed the median forecast of 92 economists in a Bloomberg survey for net hires of 180,000.

Statoil Climbs

Statoil added 5.7 percent to 157.50 kroner. Norway’s national oil company scaled back its spending plans for the three years through 2016 by 8 percent to about $20 billion a year in an attempt to increase its free cash flow. The company earlier reported a 27 percent drop in quarterly profit.

Aperam (APAM), the stainless-steel producer spun off by ArcelorMittal (MT) in 2011, jumped 13 percent to 15.39 euros. Ebitda in the fourth quarter amounted to $84 million, beating the $65.5 million that analysts had predicted.

Vedanta Resources Plc increased 4.3 percent to 857.5 pence after Bank of America Corp. raised the commodity producer to buy from neutral. The brokerage said that the share price already reflects concern the Indian rupee will continue to weaken. Vedanta mines iron ore in India and copper in Zambia.

EMS-Chemie

EMS-Chemie rose 3.8 percent to 333.50 Swiss francs as the chemical producer posted Ebitda of 424 million francs ($471 million) for 2013, beating the 413.5 million-franc average analyst projection. The company also said it will pay a dividend of 8.50 francs a share for 2013, exceeding the Bloomberg Dividend Forecast (EMSN) of 8 francs. It also announced an extraordinary dividend of 2.50 francs.

ArcelorMittal advanced 0.8 percent to 12.50 euros. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose to $1.91 billion in the fourth quarter, from $1.56 billion a year earlier. That beat the average analyst estimate of $1.81 billion. The company also said earnings will continue to climb in 2014, forecasting full-year Ebitda of about $8 billion.

Tele2 AB climbed 3.9 percent to 74.20 kronor after TMT Finance reported that Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. has held talks to acquire the company’s Swedish business. A deal could value the unit at more than $6.3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter cited by the website.

Daimler Advances

Daimler AG gained 1.7 percent to 63.54 euros as Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said he intends to increase the prices of some of the company’s vehicles because demand has outstripped supply.

SBM Offshore slumped 12 percent to 12.05 euros. The company said in a statement that a former employee tried to extort money by threatening to disclose information related to an ongoing investigation into possible improper sales practices. SBM hired outside counsel and accountants in 2012 to probe its operations in three different countries.

Outotec Oyj plunged 10 percent to 6.96 euros. The Finnish mining-equipment supplier posted fourth-quarter net income of 13.2 million euros ($18 million). That missed the 36.1 million-euro average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The company also cut its dividend to 20 euro cents per share. That compares with the Bloomberg Dividend Forecast (OTE1V) that the company would maintain its payout at 30 euro cents.

National benchmark indexes rose in every western-European market except Iceland today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent. France’s CAC 40 added 1 percent. The volume of shares changing hands in companies listed on the Stoxx 600 was 8.3 percent greater than the 30-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Cecile Vannucci at cvannucci1@bloomberg.net

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