Europe Stocks Rise as Health-Care Gains Offset Energy

European stocks advanced for the third time in four days, pushed higher by drugmakers and Greek equities.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.6 percent to 339.87 at the close of trading in London, after earlier climbing as much as 1.1 percent and falling 0.4 percent. Roche Holding AG helped send health-care companies up 0.9 percent, and Greece’s ASE Index climbed 3.8 percent, completing its biggest two-day rally since November.

The broad European benchmark gauge fell 1 percent last week for a second decline, posting its worst start to a year since 2008. It fell 3.7 percent from an almost seven-year high reached Dec. 5 through Jan. 9 amid a plunge in oil prices and Greek equities before the nation holds an election on Jan. 25.

“Concerns about oil and Greece have given us a very volatile start to the year, though this was welcome for us,” said Michael Woischneck, who helps manage about $7.3 billion at Lampe Asset Management in Dusseldorf. “It’s an opportunity to pick up stocks. We increased our equity exposure quite significantly.”

The Stoxx 600 lost 1.3 percent on Jan. 9 amid a slump in Spanish and Italian lenders. The IBEX 35 Index fell the most since September 2012 that day, closing at its lowest level since Oct. 16. At the same time, traders bought up protection should Greece’s potential exit from the euro trigger a domino drop in Spanish and Italian stocks.

The Spanish equity gauge gained 0.8 percent today, while Italy’s FTSE MIB Index added 1 percent. The ASE rallied the most among 18 western-European markets.

ECB QE

Equities ended lower last week after a person familiar with the matter said the European Central Bank is studying models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($593 billion) of investment-grade assets, raising concern that won’t be enough to shore up the economy. Later in the day, a U.S. jobs report showed earnings for all employees unexpectedly declined, sending shares lower.

Among companies moving on corporate news today, Roche rose 1.6 percent after agreeing to pay more than $1 billion for a majority stake in Foundation Medicine Inc. Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc climbed 4.3 percent, extending a record, after saying it will distribute its colchicine drug in the U.S. as a court rejected Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s motion to block sales of the gout-flares treatment.

Lufthansa, SAP

Deutsche Lufthansa AG added 1.7 percent as it said jet fuel costs should slide by 900 million euros this year, or 13 percent, after falling an estimated 400 million euros in 2014. SAP SE gained 4.6 percent after the largest maker of business-management software reported cloud revenue that topped analysts’ estimates.

International Consolidated Airlines Group SA advanced 0.8 percent, while Aer Lingus Group Plc fell 3.3 percent. The owner of British Airways, also known as IAG, said the Irish carrier rejected a sweetened bid.

Gauges of energy stocks and commodity producers dropped for a second day. Seadrill Ltd. slid 5.8 percent to its lowest price since April 2009, and Hunting Plc slumped 8.1 percent as Barclays Plc cut its rating on the stock. Rio Tinto Group and Antofagasta Plc lost more than 2 percent as copper fell below $6,000 a metric ton for the first time in more than five years.

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