European stocks gained for a fourth day, extending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s highest level since June 2008, as companies including ArcelorMittal and BT Group Plc posted better-than-expected results and a report showed German exports increased in March.
ArcelorMittal climbed the most in four months. BT jumped to its highest price since November 2007 as fourth-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates. Shire Plc advanced 4.4 percent after winning a court ruling that prevents a generic-drug company from selling a version of its ulcerative colitis treatment.
The Stoxx 600 climbed 0.4 percent to 304.99 at the close of trading. The gauge rose 1.3 percent this week, for a third week of gains, as companies posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said policy makers are ready to cut interest rates if needed.
“There are still good reasons for markets to be happy,” said Pierre Mouton, who helps oversee $6 billion as a portfolio manager at Notz, Stucki & Cie. in Geneva. “It starts with the U.S. where even though we had a soft patch, expansion is confirmed and employment improves continually. While German imports came in lower than expected, investors may be relieved the numbers weren’t as bad as in the previous month. The ECB’s commitment to ensure that no disruption happens on the banking side in Europe has given renewed confidence to investors.”
National benchmark indexes rose in 13 of the 17 western European markets open today. Denmark was closed for a public holiday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 0.5 percent, France’s CAC 40 gained 0.6 percent, while Germany’s DAX climbed 0.2 percent.
The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 10 percent greater than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
German exports rose in March, adding to signs that Europe’s largest economy is starting to recover from a contraction at the end of last year.
Exports, adjusted for working days and seasonal changes, advanced 0.5 percent from February, when they dropped 1.2 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. The increase matched the median forecast of 16 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Imports rose 0.8 percent from February, missing the 1.5 percent gain economists had predicted.
ArcelorMittal added 4.2 percent to 10.10 euros. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell to $1.57 billion in the first three months of the year from $2.12 billion a year earlier, the world’s biggest steelmaker said. That beat the $1.32 billion median estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
BT surged 12 percent to 309.5 pence. The U.K.’s largest fixed-line phone company reported fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as it added more customers to its high-speed Internet service to compensate for declining landlines.
Adjusted Ebitda rose 4 percent to 1.67 billion pounds ($2.58 billion) in the quarter ending in March. Analysts had projected 1.62 billion pounds in a Bloomberg survey. The company also proposed a dividend of 6.5 pence a share.
Shire gained 4.4 percent to 2,019 pence, its biggest advance since August. A U.S. district judge in Florida ruled late yesterday that a treatment from Actavis Inc. infringes a patent on Shire’s Lialda drug.
Lialda generated $400 million in sales last year for Shire, or 8.6 percent of the company’s revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA declined 1.6 percent to 275.9 pence. The parent of British Airways said its first-quarter loss widened on currency fluctuations, and it took a 311 million-euro charge against job cuts at Spanish unit Iberia. IAG posted an operating loss of 278 million euros, excluding one-time items. Analysts had predicted a loss of 250 million euros.
Gemalto NV dropped 3.3 percent to 58.20 euros after Morgan Stanley said expectations for the smart card maker to report organic growth of 9 percent to 12 percent in 2013 to 2015 are too high, given that it reported estimated organic growth of 3.5 percent in the last five years.