Europe, Asia stocks advance on economy

Europe, Asia stocks advance on economy

Paris: European stocks climbed to the highest level since October 2008 and Asian shares advanced after China raised its economic growth forecast and Japan’s industrial production increased. US index futures also gained.

Infineon Technologies AG, which gets more than 40% of annual sales from the Asia-Pacific region, added 1.1%. ArcelorMittal-led basic-resources companies higher as metals prices rose. Seadrill Ltd, the drilling company founded by billionaire John Fredriksen, and Aker Solutions ASA gained at least 1% as crude oil traded above $78 (Rs3,650) a barrel.

Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 index added 0.4% to 252.89 points as of 12.46pm in Paris. The gauge is heading for its biggest annual increase in a decade, having climbed 27% this year, on mounting evidence that the global economy is recovering from its worst recession since World War II. Markets in Europe were closed on 25 December for the Christmas holiday.

China on 25 December raised its 2008 growth estimate to 9.6% from 9% and said this year’s quarterly figures will also increase, narrowing the gap with Japan, the world’s second biggest economy.

“Emerging markets’ economies will support global growth," said Arnaud Scarpaci, a fund manager at Agilis Gestion in Paris, which oversees about $150 million. “That’s good for stocks. We expect another year of gains in 2010."

Japan’s cabinet office said on 25 December that the economy will expand for the first time in three years and on Monday said industrial production improved for a ninth month in November.

A 60% rally in the Stoxx 600 since March has been spurred by record-low interest rates in the US and Europe and as governments committed about $12 trillion worldwide to revive credit markets and stimulate economic growth.

US stocks rose last week, pushing the Standard and Poor’s 500 index to a 15-month high. Futures on the benchmark for US equities increased 0.1% on Monday, and the MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.7%.

Infineon, Europe’s second biggest semiconductor maker, climbed 1.1% to €3.83 (Rs257).

ArcelorMittal rose 1.5% to €31.77.

Basic-resources shares were the best performers among 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. Copper in Shanghai climbed to the highest price in more than 15 months on optimism demand is improving in the world’s largest user after domestic stockpiles dropped. Zinc jumped to the highest since April 2008.

Seadrill rose 1.1% to 149.1 kroner (Rs1,198). Aker Solutions, Norway’s biggest maker of oil platforms and equipment, advanced 1% to 76.15 kroner. Tenaris SA, the world’s largest maker of seamless pipes used to extract oil and gas, added 1.8% to €15.04. Crude oil climbed for a fourth day as forecasts of colder-than-normal weather in the US increased demand for heating fuels.

PSA Peugeot Citroen SA, Europe’s second biggest car maker, added 0.9% to €23.67. French new car sales increased by about 40% between 1 December and 23 December, helped by scrapping incentives, French daily Les Echos reported, without citing anyone.