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European Stocks Advance for a Third Day as Linde Climbs

European stocks climbed for a third day as a report showed the U.S. economy added more jobs than predicted and Greece’s private creditors agreed to a debt swap.

Linde AG surged 5.6 percent after earnings for the fourth quarter topped analysts’ estimates. Lagardere SCA plunged 6.1 percent as the largest publisher in France reported full-year net income that missed analysts’ estimates.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.5 percent to 265.44 at the close after Greece announced the results of the private-sector involvement in its debt restructuring. The gauge has still dropped 0.7 percent this week.

“Although not blowout numbers, the non-farm payrolls survey continues to point to a steady recovery in the U.S. economy,” said Espen Furnes, an Oslo-based fund manager at Storebrand Asset Management, which oversees $72 billion. “With an upwards revision of last month’s numbers, this signals that the U.S. economy is in good health. This is no jobless recovery.”

The Stoxx 600 has rallied 68 percent since March 9, 2009, when the index reached its lowest level in more than 12 years. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has surged 103 percent over the same period. The Stoxx 600 has gained 8.6 percent this year as the European Central Bank lent regional financial institutions more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) for three years and U.S. economic reports topped estimates.

U.S. Payrolls, Unemployment

A Labor Department report today showed that the U.S. economy added more jobs in February than forecast. The 227,000 increase in payrolls followed a revised 284,000 gain in January, the release showed. Job growth over the last six months was the strongest since 2006. The median projection of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a 210,000 increase in the workforce in February. The unemployment rate held at 8.3 percent.

Greece’s government said that bondholders tendered 152 billion euros of Greek-law bonds, or 85.8 percent, for the debt swap. The Mediterranean nation will swap their holdings for new securities under the debt exchange. Creditors also tendered 20 billion euros of foreign-law bonds, according to the country’s Finance Ministry.

Greece’s use of collective-action clauses forcing investors to take part in the sovereign restructuring should trigger $3 billion of insurance payouts under rules governing credit-default swap contracts.

VStoxx Declines

The VStoxx Index, which measures the cost of protecting against a decline in the Euro Stoxx 50 Index, slid 8.8 percent.

“It’s clear that the market is happy with the fact that this is more or less over, having saved Greece from the abyss,” Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Fortis Global Markets, said in a phone interview from Brussels. “In the short term, much of these problems are behind us.”

National benchmark indexes rose in 12 of the 18 western-European markets. Germany’s DAX Index gained 0.7 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.5 percent, while France’s CAC 40 Index advanced 0.3 percent.

Linde climbed 5.6 percent to 133.05 euros after predicting an increase in earnings and sales this year as demand in Asia and liquid- and cylinder-gas orders helped the world’s second-biggest maker of industrial gases report higher-than-estimated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

LSE, Cable & Wireless

London Stock Exchange Group Plc surged 6.4 percent to 955 pence, its biggest increase in eight months. The owner of Europe’s oldest independent bourse agreed to buy a majority stake in LCH.Clearnet Group Ltd. for 463 million euros as it looks to expand its post-trade services.

Cable & Wireless Worldwide Plc soared 5.9 percent to 36.2 pence after saying that Vodafone Group Plc has until March 12 to make an offer for the company. Tata Communications Ltd. also has until that date to bid for the fixed-line network company.

Straumann Holding AG and Nobel Biocare Holding AG, two Swiss makers of dental implants, surged 8.7 percent to 153.80 Swiss francs and 8.1 percent to 11.40 francs, respectively, after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its recommendations on the companies. Straumann was raised to buy from sell and Nobel Biocare was upgraded to buy from neutral. The stocks posted the two biggest gains on the Stoxx 600 today.

Hunting Plc, a U.K. oil-services provider, rose 8.1 percent to 925.5 pence. HSBC Holdings Plc revised its share-price target to 1,015 pence from 960 pence.

Lagardere plunged 6.1 percent to 22.32 euros. The owner of the Europe 1 radio station posted full-year adjusted net income of 226 million euros, compared with 284 million euros a year earlier. The publisher forecast flat Ebit this year.

Red Electrica Corp., the operator of Spain’s electricity network, fell 4.9 percent to 36.03 euros. The national energy regulator, known as CNE, said the country should cut the cost of its regulated power market.

Hermes International SCA, the French maker of Birkin bags and silk scarves, lost 2.1 percent to 264.60 euros. The stock was cut to underweight from neutral at HSBC.

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