Photographer: Daniel Roland/AFP via Getty Images

European Stocks Inch Toward Record as FTSE 100 Rises Above 7,000

European stocks rose near an all-time high as miners and oil shares led gains. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed above 7,000 for the first time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.8 percent to 404.01 at the close of trading. It is 0.4 percent away from a record close in March 2000, having surpassed the forecasts of 12 strategists surveyed by Bloomberg in January. Anglo American Plc and Glencore Plc climbed more than 4.7 percent, while Total SA advanced 2.5 percent, pushing commodity shares higher.

The FTSE 100 climbed 0.9 percent to 7,022.51. The index first surpassed its 2000 record last month, having taken more than 15 years for it to regain all the losses from the burst of the tech bubble.

The Stoxx 600 exceeded its 2007 peak yesterday on speculation the Federal Reserve won’t rush to raise rates. It has rallied 18 percent this year amid optimism the European Central Bank’s stimulus will revive the region’s economy, while a weakening euro will boost profits. The equities gauge is up 1.9 percent this week for a seventh straight gain.

“This year’s rally in Europe is the start of something rather than the end of it,” said Ben Kumar, who helps oversee about $12 billion at Seven Investment Management in London. “There might be a few wobbles on the way. People still tend to look for the negatives in Europe, which is why they may have underestimated the extent of the gains. With what the ECB is doing, and some relief that the Fed is in no rush to raise rates, stocks are the natural home for investors right now.”

Greek Bailout

The Greek ASE Index rose 2.9 percent, among the best performers in 18 western-European markets, as National Bank of Greece SA and Alpha Bank AE jumped more than 12 percent. Greece could win an infusion of bailout money as soon as next week if Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras can deliver an adequate package of reform measures, an EU official told reporters in Brussels.

Among stocks active on corporate news, Lafarge SA rose 2.1 percent after agreeing on revised terms for a $40 billion merger with Holcim Ltd. to form the world’s biggest cement company. CRH Plc gained 5.1 percent in London as shareholders approved its purchase of assets from the two companies. Holcim added 0.5 percent.

Tullow Oil Plc climbed 3.5 percent after saying it got a $450 million loan increase. TSB Banking Group Plc gained 2.1 percent after Banco de Sabadell SA agreed to buy it for 1.7 billion pounds ($2.5 billion). Sabadell added 4.5 percent. The Spanish lender also said it will sell as many as 1.09 billion shares in a rights offering for 1.48 euros apiece.

Pirelli & C. SpA advanced 2.2 percent after its biggest shareholder said it’s seeking to transfer its stake in the tiremaker to an unidentified partner for 15 euros a share. Cam Finanziaria SpA is in talks with China National Chemical Corp. about the deal, people familiar with the matter said.

Zodiac Aerospace tumbled 4.7 percent after the aeronautical-equipment manufacturer warned that first-half current operating income will be hurt by costs arising from difficulties in its Seats business. Analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co., UBS Group AG and Kepler Cheuvreux SA cut their ratings on the shares.

(A previous version of this story corrected the size and scope of the Stoxx 600’s weekly gains)

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