European Stocks Advance After Christmas; Vestas Rises

European stocks rose, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posting the longest winning streak in two months, after U.S. jobless claims dropped more than forecast and markets reopened following the Christmas holiday.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S climbed 1.8 percent after saying it won an order. Novo Nordisk A/S added 1.1 percent after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved one of its treatments. International Personal Finance Plc plunged the most since 2009.

The Stoxx 600 rose 1.1 percent to 327.68 at the close of trading, for its sixth consecutive gain, the longest winning streak since Oct. 22. The gauge climbed 2 percent this week and has added 17 percent this year, putting it on course for its largest annual increase since 2009, as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England pledged to leave interest rates near record lows for a prolonged period.

“Stock markets are indeed seeing a little Christmas rally,” said John Plassard, vice president at Mirabaud Securities LLP in Geneva. “Yesterday’s better-than-expected U.S. jobless claims numbers extend the positive sentiment we’ve been seeing. Without major economic data out today, we should be facing a fairly quiet session.”

The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 32 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In the U.S., a Labor Department report yesterday showed that jobless claims declined by 42,000 to 338,000 in the week ended Dec. 21. The median forecast of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 345,000.

National Benchmarks

National benchmark indexes advanced in all 18 western-European markets today. France’s CAC 40 gained 1.4 percent, Germany’s DAX added 1.1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.9 percent.

Vestas Wind Systems climbed 1.8 percent to 159.80 kroner. The world’s biggest wind-turbine maker said Dec. 24 that it won a 110-megawatt order from an undisclosed customer in the U.S.

Novo Nordisk rose 1.1 percent to 986 kroner. The FDA approved the company’s Tretten drug for the prevention of bleeding in adults and children who have a rare clotting disorder, according to an announcement late Dec. 23.

A gauge of European health-care companies was among the biggest gainers of the 19 industry groups on the benchmark index. Roche Holding AG, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, rose 2 percent to 249.20 Swiss francs and Essilor International SA added 2.4 percent to 76.93 euros.

FLSmidth & Co. A/S gained 3.6 percent to 290.30 kroner as the Danish mining-equipment maker said it received an order worth 515 million kroner ($95 million) to supply a cement production line in Qatar.

Electrawinds Jumps

Electrawinds SE jumped 7.7 percent to 91.4 euro cents after the renewable-energy developer and its Electrawinds NV unit received court protection for three months to negotiate a reorganization with creditors.

IPF plunged 16 percent to 455.2 pence. The home-credit business offering unsecured loans to low-income households in eastern Europe and Mexico said on Dec. 24 that its Polish unit was fined about 2.4 million pounds ($2.9 million).

The Polish Office of Consumer Protection and Competition said the way the company calculates its annual percentage rate is an infringement of consumer interests. International Personal Finance said it correctly calculates the cost of credit and will appeal the ruling. Numis Securities said it’s reviewing its rating on the company, citing the possibility of a cap on annual interest-rate payments for loans in Poland.

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA declined 2.2 percent to 17.3 euro cents as the bailed-out Italian bank postponed a shareholder meeting called to approve a 3 billion-euro ($4.1 billion) stock sale after too few investors showed up.

The meeting was delayed until tomorrow after shareholders holding less than 50 percent of Monte Paschi’s stock took part, meaning the quorum wasn’t reached, Chairman Alessandro Profumo said today in Siena.