European stocks climbed to their highest level in almost five years as a report showed that U.S. consumer confidence rose more than economists had predicted, while banks and carmakers increased.
Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY) climbed above the price at which the U.K. government has said it will break even on its 39 percent stake in the lender. European carmakers rose to their highest level since November 2007 as vehicle sales in the region increased for the first time in 19 months. FLSmidth & Co. A/S sank 9.7 percent after Europe’s biggest maker of cement-production lines said it signed fewer large orders.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2 percent to 308.72 at the close of trading, its highest level since June 2008. The equity benchmark has climbed 1.2 percent this week, completing a fourth week of gains.
“U.S. consumers -- customer number one for the global economy -- are continuing to spend and this is making us more relaxed about the prospects for the global economy,” Kevin Gardiner, head of investment strategy for Barclays Plc’s wealth-management unit in London, told Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television. “People think that central banks are providing a lifeline for the economy, but we’re past that phase now and I think the economy can increasingly stand on its own two feet.”
In the U.S., the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment rose to 83.7 in May from 76.4 in April, a report today showed. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey had called for a gain to 77.9. The forecasts ranged from 74 to 82.5.
A separate release showed that an index of U.S. leading indicators climbed 0.6 percent in April. That exceeded the 0.2 percent median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
The volume of shares changing hands in companies listed on the Stoxx 600 was 17 greater than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 15 of the 17 western-European markets that opened today. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.5 percent and Germany’s DAX Index added 0.3 percent. France’s CAC 40 Index climbed 0.6 percent to its highest level since July 2011. Markets in Norway were closed today for the Constitution Day public holiday.
Lloyds gained 3.2 percent to 62.84 pence, its highest price in more than two years. The U.K.’s largest mortgage lender exceeded the 61 pence threshold below which the Treasury has said it would recognize a loss from selling its shares. The state paid more than $30 billion to rescue the lender in 2008.
European carmakers, which have rallied 21 percent in the past four weeks, were the best-performing industry group on the Stoxx 600. PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA jumped 10 percent to 7.14 euros and 3.6 percent to 61.29 euros, respectively, after a report showed car sales increased 1.8 percent in April. Registrations rebounded in Germany and Spain.
A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S gained 1.5 percent to 41,840 kroner. The company’s Maersk Line unit posted profit of $204 million in the first quarter, more than the $160 million average analyst prediction. The container-shipping business said freight rates recovered in the three-month period as it helped to limit overcapacity by slowing the speed of its ships and reducing the size of its fleet.
Ocado Group Plc surged 36 percent to 274.1 pence, the most since its initial public offering in July 2010. Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc said it will pay the Internet grocer as much as 170 million pounds ($258 million) for a 25-year online partnership. Trading volume was nine times the daily average of the past three months, data compiled by Bloomberg shows.
FLSmidth sank 9.7 percent to 302 kroner after posting net income of 37 million kroner ($6.4 million) in the first quarter, less than the 231 million-krone average estimate in a Bloomberg survey. Sales of 5.65 billion kroner also missed analysts’ predictions for revenue of 5.89 billion kroner.
Intertek Group Plc slid 1.9 percent to 3,385 pence, its biggest decline in almost two months. The consumer-goods testing company said that its operating-profit margin has narrowed from a year earlier as net income at its minerals unit declined. Profit at the minerals business will continue to drop into the second half of the year, the company forecast.
Coca-Cola HBC AG, the bottling company that moved its primary listing to London from Athens last month, slumped 5.3 percent to 1,775 pence. Credit Suisse Group AG is placing 6.4 million shares of the company, equivalent to a stake of about 1.7 percent, according to terms obtained by Bloomberg News.
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