European stocks rose, rallying the most in eight months, as investors speculated that the military standoff in Ukraine will not lead to war.
Glencore Xstrata Plc advanced 1.7 percent after increasing its forecast for cost savings following the acquisition of Xstrata Plc. Beiersdorf AG added 2 percent as the maker of Nivea skin cream reported profit that beat estimates and predicted sales will rise as much as 6 percent this year. Ashtead Group Plc rallied the most since 2011 after saying full-year earnings will exceed the company’s previous projections.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 2.1 percent to 337.15 at the close of trading. The benchmark extended gains after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he sees no need to invade Ukraine and is not considering annexing its Crimea region. The gauge slumped 2.3 percent yesterday after Russia’s parliament granted Putin the authority to use force in Ukraine.
“We’re still in a buying mood and taking this opportunity to add positions,” Michael Woischneck, who helps oversee about 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) at Lampe Asset Management, said by phone from Dusseldorf, Germany. “There isn’t much more that the U.S. and Europe can do to punish Russia without doing damage to their own economy, so they’ll just tread carefully. We have harsh rhetoric from both sides, but I don’t see it escalating to a full-blown military conflict.”
About 16,000 Russian soldiers have blocked airports and main roads on the Crimean peninsula, Yuriy A. Sergeyev, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, said yesterday in New York. Russia’s ambassador to the UN said that threats posed by extremists legitimized his country’s intervention in Crimea, where Russian speakers make up the majority. The U.S. ambassador to the UN condemned the mobilization and said “there was no evidence of threats against ethnic Russians.”
Putin ended a series of military exercises involving about 150,000 soldiers in western Russia today and ordered the troops back to base, according to a statement from the Kremlin.
Moscow’s Micex Index rose 5.3 percent today, its largest increase since May 2010. The Russian equity benchmark slumped 11 percent yesterday. The ruble strengthened 1.2 percent against the dollar today, rebounding from its lowest level on record.
National benchmark indexes advanced in every western-European market except Iceland today. France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX rallied 2.5 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 increased 1.7 percent.
The number of shares changing hands today in Stoxx 600-listed companies was 22 percent greater than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The VStoxx Index, which measures expected volatility on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index using options prices, slipped 15 percent to 18.65.
Glencore climbed 1.7 percent to 331.9 pence after forecasting that last year’s $29 billion takeover of Xstrata will generate savings in excess of $2.4 billion in 2014. That exceeded an estimate in September of $2 billion. Glencore also said pro-forma adjusted net income fell 23 percent to $4.58 billion, beating Citigroup Inc.’s $4.01 billion projection.
Beiersdorf advanced 2 percent to 73.52 euros after posting net income of 543 million euros in 2013, more than the average analyst estimate of 532.6 million euros. The company also said profitability will increase in 2014. Earnings before interest and tax amounted to 13.2 percent of sales last year.
Ashtead Group jumped 13 percent to 956 pence. The construction-equipment rental company also said Ebitda surged to 162.2 million pounds ($270 million) from 121 million pounds during the three months ending in January.
GAM Holding AG added 3.6 percent to 15.85 Swiss francs as the Zurich-based money manager proposed a payout of 65 centimes per share, exceeding the 60-centime projection calculated by Bloomberg. It also said that earnings per share climbed to 1.26 francs ($1.42) in 2013 from 94 centimes in 2012.
Bank of Ireland Plc dropped 9.1 percent to 32.8 euro cents, completing its largest two-day slide since June 2011. U.S. billionaire investor Wilbur Ross and Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. sold a 6.4 percent holding in the lender at 32.8 cents per share, according to a statement from Deutsche Bank AG which helped place the stake.
Fresnillo Plc (FRES) slumped 4.7 percent to 924.5 pence, its largest decline this year. Annual profit fell 58 percent to $278 million, excluding effects related to its Silverstream agreement with Mexico’s Industrias Penoles SAB. That missed the $318 million average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
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