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EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks Climb After Strong U.K., Chinese Data

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By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets rallied on Wednesday, after U.K. jobs data showed more people are finding jobs, and Chinese economic-growth data beat forecasts.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 1.2% to 342.51, recovering from a 0.4% loss on Tuesday.

Among top gainers, shares of Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) added 3.1% after the miner said it produced record-volume iron ore in its fiscal first half.

Other resource firms were also on the rise, after China recorded second-quarter growth of 7.5%, bringing the economic expansion rate in line with the government's target of 2014 growth at "about 7.5%."

Shares of French oil giant Total SA (TOT) gained 1.9%, and miner Anglo American PLC picked up 2.7%.

The broader U.K. stock market was also strong after a round of mostly upbeat data on the labor market. Unemployment for the three months to May dropped to 6.5% from 6.6% in April, but wage growth slowed to its weakest pace since comparable records began in 2001. The Bank of England has signaled it wants to see a stronger rise in incomes before raising rates, and the weak salary data could ease pressure on the central bank to hike interest rates this fall.

Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec Securities, said in a note that the weak earnings growth seems to be biased down by a surge in incomes a year ago due to a change in taxation. If the current level of pay remains at these levels, earnings growth should recover in August, he said.

"Unless the economy and the labor market suddenly change direction, we continue to expect the first policy tightening to take place in November this year," Shaw said.

Inflation data out on Tuesday showed faster growth in consumer prices than expected, raising calls for BOE Governor Mark Carney and fellow bank officials to tighten policy. Read: Get ready for a November rate hike -- U.K. inflation calls for BOE action

U.K.'s FTSE 100 index was 1.1% higher at 6,783.19 after the data. Meanwhile, the pound (GBPUSD) retreated, trading at $1.713, down from $1.715 ahead of the labor-market report. Sterling rallied on Tuesday after the inflation data spurred rate-hike speculations.

Stock movers

Among London stocks on the move, shares of British Land Co. PLC gained 2.4% after the real-estate investor reported a "strong performance" in the first quarter amid solid demand for retail and commercial space.

London Stock Exchange Group PLC put on 2.3% after the exchange operator said first-quarter revenue jumped 20%, lifted by the recent boom in initial public offerings.

Royal Mail PLC dropped 1.2% after getting involved in a French antitrust probe.

Elsewhere, France's CAC 40 index advanced 1.4% to 4,368.83, and Germany's DAX 30 index put on 1.4% to 9,853.77.

Software AG shaved off 0.9% to 19.82 euros ($26.87) after Kepler Cheuvreux kept a reduce rating on the business-software company and lowered the price target to EUR20 from EUR27. The action comes after Software AG on Tuesday cut its 2014 outlook for sales growth at its biggest business.

Tele2 AB erased 2.4% after the Swedish telecom operator reported a decline in revenue.

Shares of Banco Espírito Santo SA rallied 15% in Portugal, breaking a seven-day losing streak that was spurred by jitters last week at its parent Espirito Santo International (ESI).

In the same vein, Portugal Telecom SGPS on Wednesday confirmed it didn't receive a EUR847 million debt payment from a troubled unit of ESI and said the terms of its merger with Brazil's Oi SA have been revised as a consequence. Portugal Telecom shares added 6%.

Shares of Alstom SA climbed 3.4% after Exane BNP Paribas lifted the industrial conglomerate to outperform from neutral, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 16, 2014 08:12 ET (12:12 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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