London: European stocks rose, pushing towards their biggest quarterly rally since 2009, amid optimism central banks will continue to support global growth.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.9% to 399.23 at 10.08am in London. Healthcare companies boosted the equity benchmark on Friday, trimming its worst weekly loss of the year. The volume of Stoxx 600 shares changing hands today was 26% lower than the 30-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The gauge is up 17% this year.

US stocks rose late on Friday as Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said she expects the central bank to raise interest rates this year, and that subsequent increases will be gradual without following a predictable path. China’s central bank governor said on Sunday that the government can do more to support growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

“Comments from Yellen as well as the Bank of China are driving equity markets higher again," said Teis Knuthsen, chief investment officer at Saxo Bank A/S’s private-banking unit in Hellerup, Denmark. “We have an enormously accommodative monetary policy around the world just as the global economy is strengthening. Equity markets still look pretty healthy even after such a strong quarter. Whatever correction we had last week has proven to be very short-lived."

Healthcare stocks contributed the most to the Stoxx 600’s advance on Monday. Novartis AG climbed 1.1% after saying it entered into a multi-year research-and-development collaboration with Aduro Biotech Inc. and also bought a stake in the company. Roche Holding AG gained 1%.

Dufry advances

Dufry AG rose 4.1%. The Swiss company plans to acquire Italian rival World Duty Free SpA for €2.6 billion ($2.8 billion). After buying a 50.1% stake from a company controlled by the Benetton family, Dufry said it will make an offer for the rest of World Duty Free.

Kingfisher Plc rose 2.8%. The home-improvement retailer scrapped its proposed €275 million purchase of France’s Mr Bricolage SA after disagreements on how to get the deal past antitrust regulators.

Lafarge SA lost 1.6%. Holcim Ltd’s second-biggest shareholder plans to vote against the Swiss company’s merger with Lafarge, even after the cement makers last week agreed on new terms and management changes to placate investors, according to a person familiar with the matter.

A gauge of energy shares was among the lowest gainers of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx 600. Oil fell for a second day as Iranian and western diplomats continued talks on a nuclear deal that may lead to the Islamic Republic boosting crude exports, exacerbating a global supply glut.

Euro-area economic sentiment rose in March to the highest level in more than 3 1/2 years, European Commission data showed on Monday. Preliminary German inflation data will show a pickup in prices this month, according to estimates.

US reports

In the US, data will show personal incomes rose 0.3% in February, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg, while spending probably advanced by 0.2%.

Investors will also look to Greece for any details on efforts to secure more funds and avoid fiscal collapse. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will discuss ongoing talks with creditors on the country’s proposed reforms required for further aid, a Greek government official told reporters on Sunday. The discussion will begin at 8pm Athens time. The ASE Index fell 1.1%. Bloomberg

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