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MARKET COMMENT: Europe Stocks Take Cue from Higher Wall Street

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11/23/2012 | 06:54pm CEST

By Sara Sjolin

LONDON (MarketWatch)--European stock markets climbed Friday, with the Stoxx 600 index posting its best weekly performance in almost a year, as U.S. stocks also advanced and upbeat German data calmed nerves that the region's powerhouse is losing momentum.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.6% to close at 273.33, extending gains into a fifth straight day. The index jumped 4% on the week, in sharp contrast to last week's 2.7% loss.

"We have been catching up from last week," said Predrag Dukic, senior equity sales trader at CM Capital Markets in Madrid.

"But at the moment we're not seeing too many moves. A lot of traders are under a lot of pressure because volumes are low and margins have been significantly reduced. Traders aren't really prepared to take on more risk and are waiting for this year to end," he said.

Shares of Outotec Oyj jumped 6.3% after the Finnish metals-processing firm lifted its services-sales target to an annual level of 1 billion euros ($1.29 billion) by the end of 2017 from a previous target of EUR500 million by the end of 2015.

Shares of some supermarket chains moved lower. Shares of France's Carrefour SA lost 0.3% after Nomura cut its rating on the entire European supermarket sector to neutral from bullish.

Underpinning sentiment for investors, the Munich-based Ifo Institute said its business-climate index rose to 101.4 in November from 100 in October, topping analysts' expectations. The surprise improvement also caused the euro to rally, which climbed above $1.29.

"The German economy has once again surprised us positively. There were reports that suggested otherwise, but it seems to me that the Germans are doing rather well and will surprise next year with more figures that are better than expected. This is good news for Europe," said Dukic from CM Capital Markets.

The German DAX 30 index jumped 0.9% to 7,309.13 and closed the week 5.2% higher. Bayer AG rose 1.6% to EUR69.74, after Nomura raised its target price on the health-care firm to EUR78 from EUR72.

Data from France also showed business sentiment improved but remained close to its lowest level in three years. The index for business environment among industrialists rose to 88 in November from 85 in October.

France's CAC 40 index gained 0.9% to 3,528.80, with a 1.4% gain for Sanofi SA and a 0.8% rise for Total SA. The French index rose 5.6% on the week.

Oil stocks recovered in the afternoon, as oil prices moved higher.

After the weekend, attention will return to Greece, when euro-zone finance ministers meet for the third time to try to agree on a road map to debt sustainability for Greece, a move necessary to release the country's next tranche of bailout money.

"At the moment, there is a logjam because the IMF [rightly] is insisting that debt sustainability can only be achieved through official-sector-debt forgiveness [OSI], a prospect that the northern members of the euro area are unwilling to accept at this point," analysts at RBC Capital Markets said in a note.

"But the European creditors have already demonstrated the willingness to move, and we expect a deal that will include a mix of options: lower interest rates on current loans, an interest moratorium, a longer repayment schedule or an agreement on OSI at some point in the future, conditional on Greek performance," they said.

Meanwhile, European Union leaders failed Friday to reach an agreement on the EU's budget for 2014-2020 after a two-day meeting in Brussels.

Among other notable movers in Europe, SABMiller PLC shares rose 1.2% to 28.34 pounds ($45.20), adding to a 6.4% gain on Thursday when the brewer reported a rise in net profit. Friday, Nomura lifted the stock to neutral from reduce, while Societe Generale raised its target price to GBP29.7 from GBP28.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 0.5% to 5,819.14, boosted as heavyweights followed their respective sectors higher, with GlaxoSmithKline PLC up 0.8% and energy group BP PLC up 0.4%. The London benchmark index closed out the week 3.8% higher.

Write to Sara Sjolin at [email protected]

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