Stocks rise after Vodafone and RWE deals

UK housebuilders lead FTSE upwards as property prices reach record levels

European stocks advanced, breaking a run of declines, as companies from Germany energy giant RWE to telecoms company


rose amid renewed merger and acquisition (M&A) activity.

Equities were also lifted by the release of data showing that US industrial production rose more in February than forecast, signalling a recovery from severe winter weather. US equities were trading strongly as the European markets closed for business.


The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting tomorrow that analysts said will see policy makers further scale back bond-purchase stimulus.

Trading volumes were lighter-than-average on both the Iseq index and across Europe as a whole, but sentiment was nevertheless positive, with almost all stocks in Dublin climbing. The Iseq finished up 1.1 per cent.

Building materials group CRH , the largest stock on the index, rose 0.6 per cent to €19.80, while Ryanair ended close to its session high at €7.21, up 1.7 per cent. After a subdued finish to last week, there was a "reasonable bounce back" in Bank of Ireland 's shares, one dealer noted, with the stock closing up 2.7 per cent at 31 cent.

Drinks group C&C was also one of the standout performers, advancing 2.3 per cent to €4.70, while mining company Kenmare finished up almost 12 per cent to close at 18 cent, with the upward momentum helping it recover some of its recent losses.

UK stocks rose for the first time in seven days, as data showed house prices reached a record high. The FTSE 100 index was up 0.6 per cent at the close of trading, helping to recover some of the 2.8 per cent losses sustained by the blue-chip index last week.

Persimmon led developers upwards, rallying 3.7 per cent to 1,361 pence, after a report by Rightmove showed asking prices for homes in both London and across the UK surged to record levels in March. Bovis Homes gained 4.7 per cent to 895 pence, while Taylor Wimpey added 2.1 per cent to 118.2 pence, with the stocks also buoyed by UK government moves to extend mortgage assistance schemes.

Vodafone climbed 1.7 per cent to 226 pence after it agreed to buy Spanish cable operator Ono, in what is the latest move in the company's acquisitions spree.

Tesco declined 1.3 per cent to 299.7 pence after stock analysts at Bank of America recommended selling shares in the UK's largest retailer, citing a possible reduction in its profit margin due to an expected price war in the British grocery market.

National benchmark indexes advanced in every western European market except Iceland, with France's Cac 40 adding 1.3 per cent and Germany's Dax climbing 1.4 per cent.

RWE increased 1.3 per cent to €28.84 after L1 Energy, the investment vehicle of Mikhail Fridman, Russian's fourth-richest man, agreed to spend €5.1 billion on the utility's Dea division. Allianz rose the most in two months after it agreed to buy assets from Italy's Unipol. Europe's biggest insurer added 2 per cent to €122.90 after saying it would spend €440 million on the deal.

Germany engineering company Siemens climbed 3.4 per cent to €93.69, its biggest gain since July, after analysts at Bank of America upgraded its recommendation on the stock to buy from neutral.

Stocks rose across all main 10 industries on the S&P 500, as better-than-forecast data on industrial production boosted optimism on the economy.

Yahoo! jumped 4.4 per cent to $39.23 after Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba began the process for listing shares in the US. Yahoo owns 24 per cent of Alibaba.

Hertz added 4.8 per cent to $27.23 after a Financial Times report that the company will spin off its equipment-rentals unit. – ( Additional reporting: Bloomberg )