European stocks rise to three-week high

Markets lifted by Deutsche Bank and Statoil earnings and GDP figures in the UK

European stocks rose to a three-week high as companies from Deutsche Bank to Statoil reported earnings that beat estimates.

Markets were also buoyed by the release of economic data in the UK, where GDP estimates showed its economy expanded 3.1 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter. This missed estimates slightly, but was the biggest annual increase since the fourth quarter of 2007 and showed enough momentum to satisfy investors.

The Iseq index gained 0.8 per cent, as most of its biggest stocks advanced. Building materials group CRH closed up 1.3 per cent at €20.99, while Bank of Ireland climbed 4.5 per cent to 28 cent on a good day for banks across Europe.

It was also a decent session for food group Kerry , which rose 1.9 per cent to €57.50. Insulation-maker Kingspan advanced 3.4 per cent to €13 and Independent News & Media rose 5.7 per cent to 15 cent.


FBD closed up 1.5 per cent at €17.26 after it published a trading statement in which it signalled that bad weather in January and February would lead to an increase in the cost of claims, but also said it was confident it could outperform the insurance market for the rest of 2014.

However, there were declines for Ryanair , which fell 0.7 per cent to €6.83 and Smurfit Kappa , which closed down 1.3 per cent at €15.69. The paper and packaging group will report its earnings for the first quarter on Friday.

The Green Reit also finished lower, ending the day at a price of €1.19, down 1.3 per cent. The real estate investment trust announced results of its open offer and placing and will hold an egm to approve the capital raising exercise tomorrow.

UK stocks increased for a second day, with the benchmark FTSE 100 Index rising to its highest level in more than seven weeks, as preliminary data showed economic growth accelerated in the first quarter. The blue-chip index gained 1 per cent at the close of trading in London.

BP added 2.9 per cent to 502.6 pence after the oil producer raised its quarterly dividend to 9.75 cents a share.

HSBC Holdings led banks higher in line with its European peers. It rose 1.7 per cent to 611.1 pence, as a gauge of European lenders posted the second-best performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Standard Chartered added 1.8 per cent to 1,305 pence, while Lloyds Banking Group gained 1.2 per cent to 74.9 pence.

National benchmark indexes advanced in every western European market except Iceland. France's CAC 40 gained 0.8 per cent to its highest level since September 2008, while Germany's DAX rose 1.5 per cent.

Deutsche Bank climbed 2.2 per cent to €32.11 after Europe's largest investment bank said first-quarter profit dropped less than projected.

Statoil gained 4.5 per cent to 181.50 kroner. Norway's biggest energy company said adjusted net income rose to 15.8 billion kroner ($2.6 billion) from 12 billion kroner a year earlier, beating estimates.

Nokia gained 2.9 per cent to €5.29 after naming Rajeev Suri as its new chief executive officer and saying it will spend about €5 billion on dividends, share buybacks and debt reduction.

Equity values rose in early trading as internet stocks rallied for the first time in five days and results from companies including Merck and Sprint topped estimates ahead of a Federal Reserve decision on monetary policy.

Internet stocks gained as Yahoo!, TripAdvisor and Twitter (due to release earnings figures after the close of markets) all jumped at least 4.1 per cent. Merck rose 3.1 per cent as earnings were helped by cuts in spending on promotions and research. Sprint added 9.2 per cent after sales beat estimates as the company held onto more subscribers than forecast. (Additional reporting: Bloomberg)