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European Stocks Surge Most in Two Months; BHP, Infineon Advance

European Stocks Rise for First Day in Three
Germany’s DAX Index, seen here, and France’s CAC 40 gained 1.4 percent. Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg

European stocks climbed by the most in two months after reports showed manufacturing expanded in the U.S. and China, boosting confidence in the strength of the global economic recovery.

BHP Billiton Ltd. led mining companies higher as copper surged to a record. National Bank of Greece SA led a rally in the nation’s equities as Credit Suisse Group AG upgraded its stance on the Mediterranean country. Infineon Technologies AG and ARM Holdings Plc increased after reporting results that exceeded estimates.

The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index rallied 1.5 percent to 284.2 at the 4:30 p.m. close in London, the biggest gain since Dec. 2. The gauge dropped 1 percent over the previous two days as anti-government protests rocked Egypt, causing airline and travel company shares to fall.

“Egypt was an excuse for profit taking,” said Markus Steinbeis, head of equity portfolio management at the Unterfoehring, Germany-based unit of Pioneer Investments KGmbH, which oversees about $221 billion globally. “It’s more about macroeconomic themes at the moment. I expect a rally until the end of the week but overall we’re in a consolidation mood.”

Egyptian protesters poured into central Cairo today demanding President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation as the turmoil that has ricocheted through the region spread to Jordan. As tens of thousands filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifai quit and King Abdullah asked his replacement to begin the process of “genuine” change.

Benchmark Indexes

National benchmark indexes rose in all of the 18 western European markets today, except Sweden. Germany’s DAX Index rallied 1.5 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 1.6 percent and France’s CAC 40 gained 1.7 percent. Greece’s ASE soared 4.4 percent to the highest level since September.

The Stoxx 600 gained 1.5 percent last month amid better-than-forecast economic reports and speculation that European leaders will increase their efforts to contain the region’s sovereign debt crisis.

Per-share earnings have topped analysts’ estimates at 24 of the 38 companies in the Stoxx 600 that reported results since Jan. 10, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Net income rose 24 percent as sales increased 12 percent in the period.

Stocks extended gains today as the U.S. Institute for Supply Management’s factory index increased to 60.8 in January from 58.5 a month earlier. Readings greater than 50 signal growth, and economists had projected 58 for the gauge, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

Chinese Economy

A reading of 52.9 for a purchasing managers’ index released by China’s logistics federation exceeded the 50 level dividing expansion and contraction. A PMI from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics rose to 54.5 from 54.4.

In Europe, manufacturing growth was stronger than initially estimated in January, accelerating to the fastest pace in nine months on stronger output in Germany. A gauge of manufacturing in the euro region rose to 57.3 from 57.1 in December, Markit Economics said today. That’s the highest since April and above the initially reported 56.9.

BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, advanced 2.1 percent to 2,430 pence, pulling a gauge of basic-resource producers to the third-biggest gain among the Stoxx 600’s 19 industry groups.

Rio Tinto Group, the third-largest mining company, gained 1.5 percent to 4,344 pence as copper rose to records in New York and London while aluminum and nickel climbed to two-year highs. Kazakhmys Plc, Kazakhstan’s biggest copper producer, rose 4.8 percent to 1,578 pence.

Greek Gains

National Bank of Greece jumped 7.7 percent to 7.60 euros, while EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA rose 11 percent to 4.74 euros. Public Power Corp. SA, Greece’s biggest electricity producer, gained 2.6 percent to 12.26 euros. Credit Suisse upgraded its stance on Greece to “benchmark” from “underweight,” saying “Greek equities look cheap.”

Infineon climbed 1.3 percent to 7.82 euros, ending two days of declines. Europe’s second-largest chipmaker raised its full-year forecast after reporting a better-than-predicted first-quarter profit on surging demand for automotive and industrial semiconductors.

ARM advanced 6.1 percent to 547.5 pence, the highest since 2001. The designer of semiconductors used in most smartphones including Apple Inc.’s iPhone said fourth-quarter revenue rose 34 percent to 113.9 million pounds ($183 million). Analysts had estimated sales at 105.8 million pounds in a Bloomberg survey.

Autonomy Advances

Autonomy Corp. soared 6.3 percent to 1,590 pence, the largest gain since May 2009. The U.K.’s second-largest software company posted higher full-year profit and said current analysts’ estimates are “conservative.”

Banco de Valencia SA surged 4.8 percent to 3.71 euros, the highest in two months. A group of seven savings bank led by Caja Madrid plans to use Banco Valencia as a vehicle through which to make a stock-market listing, El Economista reported, without saying where it got the information. A spokeswoman for Caja Madrid declined to comment and no one at Banco Valencia was immediately available to comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

Metro AG, Germany’s largest retailer, climbed 3.3 percent to 53.12 euros as UBS AG upgraded the stock to “buy” from “neutral.” The company “is on track for a period of solid double digit profit growth,” a team of London-based analysts including Matthew Taylor wrote in a report.

Continental AG rallied 1.8 percent to 58.52 euros as Deutsche Bank AG lifted its recommendation on Europe’s second-biggest tiremaker to “buy” from “hold.”

Aurubis, Sabadell Fall

Aurubis AG sank 4.4 percent to 39.30 euros after Europe’s largest copper smelter said it expects to post a first-quarter operating loss of 21 million euros. WestLB AG cut its recommendation on the stock to “neutral” from “add.”

Banco Sabadell SA slumped 4.1 percent to 3.35 euros as the Spanish lender said it raised 410.7 million euros in a capital increase, selling 126.4 million shares at 3.25 euros apiece.

SKF AB tumbled 7.9 percent to 169.5 kronor, the biggest drop since November 2008. The world’s biggest maker of ball bearings said fourth-quarter net income rose to 1.31 billion kronor ($205 million), trailing the 1.45 billion-krona average estimate in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.

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