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European shares gain; commodities, banks lead

European shares gain; commodities, banks lead
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First Published: Tue, Apr 06 2010. 05 11 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Apr 06 2010. 05 11 PM IST
London: European shares rose on Tuesday, led by the commodity and banking sectors as stocks reacted positively to Friday’s strong US jobs data, and the European market reopened after the long Easter weekend.
By 4:13pm, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares was up 0.5% at 1,099.11 points after hitting a 18-month high earlier.
The index is up around 70% from its lifetime low of 9 March, 2009, but is only up 5% so far this year.
Energy stocks were in demand continuing gains from the previous session. Crude prices touched an 18-month high on Monday, though they slipped slightly on Tuesday as the dollar strengthened.
BG Group, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Total rose 1.2 to 2%.
Mining stocks also extended gains from the previous session as copper ticked up 0.7% BHP Billiton, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, Rio Tinto and Xstrata were up 1.4 to 2.5%.
Banks featured among the top performers. Banco Santander, UBS, Lloyds Banking Group and BNP Paribas rose 0.5 to 1.6%.
“It is certainly a positive start to the second quarter. We are digesting the full implications of the U.S. employment figures on Friday when the European market was closed,” said Peter Dixon, economist at Commerzbank.
“There is a sense that the economy is beginning to turn the corner which is helping to support the market at the moment.”
Across Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 index was up 0.6%, shrugging off confirmation that a general election will be held on 6 May.
“The election call was exactly what the market had been expecting and now we are just in for the long and tedious campaign,” said Jim Wood-Smith, head of research at Williams de Broe.
Polls point to a hung parliament in which no party has an overall majority because support for the Conservatives is less efficiently distributed across Britain’s 650 parliamentary constituencies.
Germany’s DAX rose 0.3% and France’s CAC 40 was 0.5% higher.
On the downside, drugmakers took the most points off the index as investors sold out of defensive stocks. Roche, Novartis , Sanofi Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline slipped 0.6 to 0.8 percent.
Looking at individual shares, BAE Systems fell 0.7% after traders pointed to a Goldman Sachs note sent on Monday which reiterated the defence company as a “conviction sell”.
In economic news, investor sentiment in the euro zone improved this month to its most optimistic level in almost two years, the Sentix research group said.
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First Published: Tue, Apr 06 2010. 05 11 PM IST
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