European Stocks Advance as ECB Lowers Interest Rates

European stocks rose to a seven-week high as the European Central Bank lowered its benchmark interest rate, while companies from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Bayerische Motoren Werke AG posted profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc advanced to its highest price in three months in Amsterdam after saying earnings from refining and marketing rose because of higher processing margins. BMW gained 1 percent. Statoil retreated the most in almost a year after reporting lower oil and gas production in Norway. Danske Bank A/S declined the most in six months after saying that low interest rates have caused net interest income to decline.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.3 percent to 297.88 at the close in London, rebounding from a decline of as much as 0.5 percent. The equity benchmark completed an 11th month of gains in April, its longest winning streak since 1997. Western-European markets, except for the U.K., Ireland and Denmark, were closed yesterday for Labor Day.

“The fashion right now for all central banks is to help the economy with a lot of money, and this will go on, and this will lead equity markets higher,” said Herbert Perus, who helps oversee $36 billion as head of equities at Raiffeisen Capital Management in Vienna.

Interest Rates

The ECB cut its key interest rate to a record low. Central bankers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia lowered the main refinancing rate to 0.5 percent from 0.75 percent, a move predicted by 45 of 70 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. The ECB left its deposit rate at zero and reduced its marginal lending rate to 1 percent from 1.5 percent.

“Our monetary policy stance will remain accommodative for as long as needed,” Draghi said at a press conference after the meeting today. “We are closely monitoring money market conditions and their potential impact on our monetary policy stance and its transmission to the economy.”

In the U.S., the Federal Reserve said it will continue to buy $85 billion of bonds a month and will raise or lower purchases if economic conditions change.

“The committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes,” the Federal Open Market Committee said late yesterday following a two-day meeting in Washington.

European Indexes

National benchmark indexes declined in nine of the 18 western-European markets today. Germany’s DAX rose 0.6 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 0.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 increased 0.1 percent.

The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600-listed companies was 10 percent greater than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shell rose 1.4 percent to 26.20 euros in Amsterdam. Europe’s largest oil company said first-quarter profit excluding one-off items and inventory changes increased 3 percent to $7.5 billion from a year earlier. That beat the $6.4 billion average estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

BMW advanced 1 percent to 70.74 euros. The world’s biggest luxury-car maker said first-quarter earnings before interest and taxes declined to 2.04 billion euros ($2.7 billion), a smaller drop than analysts had predicted. The company said demand increased for its 3 Series cars.

Beiersdorf AG advanced 4.2 percent to 71.64 euros after the maker of Nivea skin cream reported first-quarter Ebit that exceeded estimates. Emerging-market sales, which contribute almost half of total revenue, jumped, according to a statement. The stock declined 4.6 percent in April, its largest monthly drop in 20 months.

EDF, Statoil

Electricite de France SA climbed 1.6 percent to 17.24 euros. French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg said the government, which controls about 84 percent of EDF, has no intention of lowering its stake in Europe’s biggest power generator.

Statoil retreated 3.9 percent to 135.20 kroner. Norway’s national oil company posted adjusted net income of 12 billion kroner ($2.1 billion) for the first quarter, less than the 13.7 billion kroner estimated by analysts.

Danske Bank slipped 5.4 percent to 103.10 kroner. Denmark’s biggest lender also reported net income of 1.47 billion kroner ($258 million) in the first quarter. Analysts had predicted 1.57 billion kroner of profit for the period, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Swisscom AG lost 1.8 percent to 429.90 Swiss francs. Switzerland’s largest phone company said net income fell to 388 million francs ($415 million) in the first quarter. The average analyst estimate had called for 402.5 million francs.

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