Renault SA and Daimler AG each gained more than 1.5 percent as a report showed European car sales rose in March. Remy Cointreau SA and Diageo Plc (DGE) declined more than 3 percent after reporting lower sales. SAP AG lost 1.2 percent as Germany’s biggest technology company said that revenue from new software licenses dropped in the quarter. Akzo Nobel NV (AKZA) slid the most in nine months as its sales missed projections.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.5 percent to 332.43 at the close of trading as diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and the European Union held talks on the unrest in eastern Ukraine. The equity benchmark has climbed 1.1 percent this week. It has still fallen 2 percent from this year’s high on April 4 amid a confrontation between Ukraine’s government and pro-Russian separatists in the country’s eastern region.
“Positive news from the U.S. is also positive for Europe,” Christian Stocker, a senior strategist at UniCredit Bank AG in Munich, said by phone. “We don’t think it will be a lasting upward trend. What we definitely need to see is earnings growth to stabilize the valuations.”
National benchmarks gained in 12 of the 15 European markets that opened today. France’s CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent. Germany’s DAX climbed 1 percent. Sweden’s OMX Stockholm 30 retreated 0.1 percent after closing early. Norway, Denmark and Iceland were all shut for Maundy Thursday.
A Labor Department report showed U.S. jobless claims rose to 304,000 in the week ended April 12, fewer than the median economist forecast of 315,000.
The U.S. and the EU are assessing whether Vladimir Putin’s government has any intention of resolving the unrest in eastern Ukraine. The acting government in Kiev has accused Russia of deploying its troops in several towns. Putin denied the claim in televised comments in Moscow today, and said Russia would fight to defend compatriots in other countries.
U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday on CBS News that Russia will face economic sanctions unless Putin refrains from supporting separatist militias in Ukraine and withdraws troops from the border.
Renault climbed 1.9 percent to 73.37 euros as a report by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association showed the carmaker’s sales rallied 29 percent in March. Daimler AG, which increased sales by 5.4 percent, added 3 percent to 67.29 euros. Registrations in Europe gained 10 percent to 1.49 million vehicles, ACEA said. A gauge of auto-related companies rose 2.1 percent, the best performance on the Stoxx 600.
TUI AG jumped 6.2 percent to 12.09 euros as Equinet Bank AG raised its recommendation on Europe’s biggest tour operator to buy from accumulate. The stock’s recent decline as two shareholders reduced their stakes offers a buying opportunity, the brokerage wrote in a note. TUI tumbled 18 percent from a high on Feb. 18 through yesterday’s close as Monteray Enterprises Ltd. and Teck Capital Management sold shares.
Remy Cointreau dropped 3.3 percent to 60.87 euros after saying that adjusted operating profit probably declined by 35 percent to 40 percent in the financial year through March. It had predicted a drop of at least 10 percent. The maker of Remy Martin cognac also said annual organic sales fell 11 percent, wider than the 9.7 percent drop predicted by analysts. Remy posts its full-years results on June 5.
Diageo slipped 3.7 percent to 1,829 pence after the world’s biggest distiller said sales, excluding acquisitions and currency swings, fell 1.3 percent in the third quarter of its financial year. The median projection of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had called for an increase of 1.8 percent.
Pernod Ricard SA, Europe’s second-largest distiller, retreated 2.7 percent to 85.65 euros. A gauge of food and beverage stocks posted the worst performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600.
SAP declined 1.2 percent to 57.73 euros after the world’s largest maker of business software reported first-quarter operating profit, excluding some items, of 919 million euros ($1.3 billion) on sales of 3.7 billion euros. Analysts on average had predicted earnings of 975 million euros and revenue of 3.8 billion euros.
Akzo Nobel slid 5.8 percent to 53.55 euros after posting sales of 3.38 billion euros, trailing the 3.44 billion-euro average analyst estimate. The world’s largest maker of paint also reported first-quarter net income of 129 million euros, exceeding the 116 million-euro average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
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