European Stocks Advance on U.S. Data as Randstad Gains

European stocks rose, with the region’s benchmark index capping its longest streak of weekly gains since November, as data showed a drop in German business confidence and a rebound in U.S. housing activity.

Randstad Holding NV advanced 3.1 percent as UBS AG advised investors to buy shares in the biggest Dutch staffing company. Pandora A/S fell 4.2 percent as some shareholders sold a stake of about 10 percent in the Danish jewelry maker. Orange SA dropped 1.6 percent after Societe Generale SA lowered its recommendation on France’s largest phone company.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent to 341.76 at the close of trading as investors also weighed the Ukraine situation before the May 25 presidential election. The gauge is trading less than 0.1 percent below its six-year high reached May 13 and posted its sixth straight weekly gain.

“The economic data out of Europe have come in slightly disappointing lately, but today, Germany’s numbers were in line,” said Christian Zogg, who manages about $540 million as head of equity and fixed income at LLB Asset Management AG in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. “The Ifo number may have come in a bit below expectations, but it’s still on a high level. Investors will remain on the sidelines before the weekend, also to see what happens in Ukraine.”

The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600-listed companies was 25 percent lower than the 30-day average for this time of the day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Business Confidence

In Germany, the Ifo institute’s business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, fell to 110.4 in May from 111.2 in April. Economists in a Bloomberg News survey predicted a drop to 110.9. First-quarter growth in Europe’s biggest economy met projections.

Purchases of new U.S. houses rose in April by the most in six months, separate data showed. The 6.4 percent increase to a 433,000 annualized rate followed a revised 407,000 in March, Commerce Department data showed in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for the rate to accelerate to 425,000.

National benchmark indexes advanced in 13 of the 18 western-European markets today. France’s CAC 40 added 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX rose 0.5 percent to a record. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slipped less than 0.1 percent.

Randstad climbed 3.1 percent to 42.04 euros. UBS raised its rating on the stock to buy from neutral, saying the company will witness profit growth if the economic recovery continues. Adecco advanced 0.9 percent to 73.15 Swiss francs after UBS raised its rating on the world’s largest supplier of temporary workers to buy from sell.

BTG Jumps

BTG Plc rallied 6.4 percent to 582 pence, posting its biggest gain since November. The biotechnology company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its EkoSonic Endovascular System for treating pulmonary embolism.

Pandora lost 4.2 percent to 396 kroner. Funds managed by Danish private-equity firm Axcel, Pewic Holding ApS and Christian and Per Algot Enevoldsen raised 5.16 billion kroner ($940 million) by selling 13 million shares in the company, according to an e-mailed statement from book runners Danske Bank A/S and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Orange dropped 1.6 percent to 12.09 euros. Societe Generale cut its rating for the company to hold from buy, citing increased pressure to cut broadband prices. Any tariff reduction will jeopardize Orange’s 2014 profit target, the bank said.

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