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European Stocks Advance Before Greek Debt-Swap Deadline

A Pedestrian Passes The Aviva Plc Headquarters
Aviva Plc climbed 1.9 percent as the U.K.’s second-biggest insurer by market value reported operating profit that exceeded estimates. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

European stocks rallied the most in a month as the deadline on Greece’s debt swap approached and Germany’s industrial output increased more than forecast.

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. climbed to a five-year high after doubling its dividend and predicting earnings will climb. BNP Paribas SA jumped 3.7 percent as Simon Property Group Inc. agreed to buy some of the French bank’s stake in Klepierre SA. Enel SpA, Italy’s largest energy company, sank 5.7 percent after cutting its dividend.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 1.6 percent to 264.16 at the close in London, the biggest increase since Feb. 3. The gauge rose 0.6 percent yesterday after a private report showed hiring in U.S. companies accelerated last month. The measure has surged 8 percent this year as the European Central Bank lent the region’s lenders more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) for three years to ease liquidity.

“Investors will be able to draw a line under Greece that has been going on for too long,” said Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewing Dolphin Securities Ltd. in London. “In the U.S., economic news flow has been very encouraging. The overall trend of employment has been positive.”

Data today showed the number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits rose to 362,000 last week. The U.S. Labor Department will release its monthly payrolls figures tomorrow.

National benchmark indexes rose in all of the 18 western European markets today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 1.2 percent, France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX both rallied 2.5 percent.

Volume Climbs

The VStoxx Index, which measures the cost of protecting against a decline in the Euro Stoxx 50 Index, declined 11 percent, the largest loss in three months. The number of shares changing hands on the Euro Stoxx 50 was 32 percent greater than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Investors with at least 60 percent of the Greek bonds eligible for the nation’s debt swap have so far indicated they’ll participate, moving the country closer to sealing the biggest sovereign restructuring in history. The offer, which ends at 10 p.m. Athens time today, aims to reduce the 206 billion euros of privately held Greek debt by 53.5 percent.

In Germany, industrial output increased more than economists forecast in January as construction activity jumped. Production rose 1.6 percent from December, when it fell 2.6 percent, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. Economists forecast a January increase of 1.1 percent.

EADS Gains

EADS surged 11 percent to 29.74 euros, the highest price since May 2006. The maker of Airbus passenger jets agreed to pay a dividend of 45 cents a share, more than doubling the payout from last year and exceeding analyst estimates for a 30-cent dividend. Earnings before interest, taxes and one-time items will increase to more than 2.5 billion euros in 2012, from 1.8 billion euros last year, EADS said.

BNP Paribas jumped 3.7 percent to 37 euros after Simon Property Group, the biggest U.S. mall owner, agreed to buy 28.7 percent of Klepierre for 28 euros a share in a deal valued at 1.52 billion euros. The sale will reduce BNP Paribas’s stake in Klepierre to 22 percent. Shares of Klepierre surged 8.4 percent to 25.35 euros.

Aviva Plc added 1.6 percent to 356.8 pence as the U.K.’s second-biggest insurer by market value reported operating profit of 2.5 billion pounds ($4 billion), topping the 2.45 billion-pound median estimate of analysts in a Bloomberg survey.

Scania, Volvo

Scania AB and Volvo AB rose 6.9 percent to 135.50 kronor and 4.7 percent to 96.15 kronor, respectively, after JPMorgan Chase & Co. named the Swedish truckmakers among its top picks.

Gemalto NV jumped 8.8 percent to 46.98 euros as the inventor of the smart chip used in bank and phone cards forecast revenue and operating profit will increase this year.

Deutsche Post AG advanced 5.7 percent to 13.65 euros. Europe’s largest postal service said profit in 2012 will rise as much as 6.6 percent as growth in global trade helps the company’s DHL express and freight business.

Enel retreated 5.7 percent to 2.87 euros after the utility cut its dividend payout by a third to 40 percent of ordinary net income as it seeks to raise funds to cut debt.

Annual net income fell to 4.15 billion euros from 4.4 billion euros a year earlier, hurt by a windfall-profit tax imposed in Italy, the company said. That missed the 4.3 billion-euro average analyst estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

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