European Stocks Gain For Fourth Day After U.S. Jobs Data

European stocks climbed to their highest in more than 22 months, as U.S. reports showed employers added more workers in December and the services industry expanded more than forecast.

ThromboGenics NV added 3.3 percent after confirming the launch date for its Jetrea vision restoration treatment. Fresnillo Plc, the world’s biggest primary silver producer, slid 4 percent after UBS AG downgraded the shares. Randgold Resources Ltd. lost 4.1 percent as the price of the metal fell.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.4 percent to 287.83 at the close of trading, its highest since February 2011. The gauge rose 3.3 percent this week.

“The numbers are not good enough for the market to really want to surge on but the market has accepted them quite well,” David Buik, a market strategist at Cantor Index Ltd. in London, said, referring to the U.S. payrolls report.

Employers in the U.S. added workers in December at about the same pace as the prior month, and the unemployment rate matched a four-year low.

Payrolls rose by 155,000 in December, following a revised 161,000 advance in November that was more than initially estimated, Labor Department figures showed today. The median estimate of 82 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase of 152,000. The unemployment rate held at 7.8 percent, matching the lowest since December 2008.

The Institute for Supply Management’s index of U.S. non-manufacturing businesses rose to 56.1 in December from 54.7 a month earlier, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said. The median forecast of 66 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a decline to 54.1. Readings above 50 signal expansion.

Fed Minutes

Federal Open Market Committee minutes, released yesterday in Washington, showed a split on how long the $85 billion monthly bond-purchase program should last. Participants who provided estimates were “approximately evenly divided” between those who said it would be appropriate to end the purchases around mid-2013 and those in favor of continuing beyond that time.

“There is obviously severe doubt in the mind of many of the members of the Federal Reserve that quantitative easing is actually the answer to the problems,” Buik said. “Still, QE has underwritten the value of equities over the past three years, so that is why I think it is a bold move to consider ending stimulus.”

National benchmark indexes rose in 14 of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 increased 0.7 percent and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.3 percent.

ThromboGenics Gains

ThromboGenics added 3.3 percent to 44.32 euros, its highest price since at least July 2006, after it confirmed its U.S. launch date of Jan. 14 for its Jetrea vision treatment.

Bankia SA, the lender that received the largest Spanish bailout, surged 49 percent to 61.5 euro cents, for the biggest gain on the Stoxx 600.

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA rose 12 percent to 26.4 euro cents, leading gains in Italy.

Sonova Holding AG advanced 2.9 percent to 107.7 Swiss francs after Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch unit upgraded the maker of hearing health-care products to buy from neutral.

BP Plc, whose Macondo well exploded in 2010, advanced 2.7 percent to 453.5 pence. Transocean Ltd.’s settlement of federal claims related to the accident could bring BP closer to one of its own before a civil trial in late February, Exane BNP Paribas analysts wrote.

Fresnillo Drops

Fresnillo slid 4 percent to 1,810 pence after UBS downgraded the shares to neutral from buy, saying the stock has outperformed silver and its peers. The price of the metal today fell to its lowest since August.

Randgold Resources, a gold producer in West Africa, lost 4.1 percent to 5,975 pence as the price of metal dropped. A gauge of commodity-company shares fell 0.9 percent, for the worst performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600.

Marks & Spencer Group Plc, the U.K.’s biggest clothing retailer, retreated 3.1 percent to 376.4 pence. Nomura Holdings Inc. lowered its 2013 pre-tax estimates for the retailer to 666 million pounds ($1.07 billion) from 694 million pounds, citing a fall in general merchandise sales.

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