Most European stocks advanced, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index extending an 18-month high, as a better-than-expected jobs report from the U.S. offset a cut in economic growth forecasts for Europe’s largest economy.
Berkeley Group Holdings Plc climbed to its highest in more than five years after the homebuilder said first-half profit rose 45 percent. William Demant Holding A/S added 2.8 percent after UBS AG said the maker of hearing aids will benefit from a market recovery next year. Alcatel-Lucent SA fell 2.9 percent after it was removed from France’s benchmark equity index.
The Stoxx 600 rose 0.1 percent to 279.17 at the close of trading, its highest level since May 31, 2011. Of the measure’s 600 members, 334 advanced, while 246 fell. The gauge gained 1.2 percent this week amid optimism U.S. lawmakers will reach a budget agreement to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
“The positive jobs numbers offset the very negative tone coming out of Germany today with respect to the Bundesbank growth forecast downgrade and the very disappointing industrial production,” said Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets Plc in London. “It probably just keeps that momentum that we had going into this week pushing higher.”
U.S. payrolls rose more than anticipated in November and the jobless rate fell to an almost four-year low, indicating superstorm Sandy had little effect on the labor market.
Employment climbed by 146,000 following a revised 138,000 gain in October that was less than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 91 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 85,000. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent.
The Frankfurt-based Bundesbank reduced its 2013 projection for German economic growth to 0.4 percent from the 1.6 percent predicted in June and said the economy will grow 0.7 percent this year, down from its previous forecast of 1 percent.
German industrial production unexpectedly dropped 2.6 percent in October from September, when it declined 1.3 percent, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today.
National benchmark indexes rose in 12 of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC gained 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.2 percent, while Germany’s DAX slipped 0.2 percent.
Berkeley Group advanced 4.7 percent to 1,728 pence, its highest price since July 2007, after it said first-half profit rose to 107.5 million pounds ($173 million) from 74 million pounds a year earlier, as it sold more homes at wider margins.
William Demant gained 2.8 percent to 495.10 kroner. UBS said the Nordic region’s largest maker of hearing aids will benefit from a market recovery next year, as it raised the stock to buy from neutral.
Wincor Nixdorf AG, Europe’s biggest maker of automated teller machines, added 3.6 percent to 34.60 euros. The company expects earnings before interest, taxes and amortization in 2014 to be higher than 2013.
Alcatel-Lucent fell 2.9 percent to 85.8 euro cents. The former industrial giant whose operations once ranged from spaceflight to cutting-edge theoretical physics will be removed from the CAC 40 effective Dec. 24.
Deutsche Telekom AG fell 1.9 percent to 8.42 euros. Germany’s biggest phone company said it will pay a dividend of 50 euro cents per share in 2013 and 2014, down from the 70 cents pledged this year.
Norsk Hydro ASA, Europe’s third-largest aluminum maker, fell 2.4 percent to 27.04 kroner. Nomura Holdings Inc. downgraded its recommendation on the shares to reduce, the equivalent of sell, from neutral, citing aluminum price uncertainty.