European stocks posted their first weekly gain since the middle of last month as the IMF raised its forecasts for global economic growth, US corporate earnings beat estimates and German business confidence improved.
The STOXX Europe 600 Index advanced 1.7 percent to 257.79 this week, after four weeks of losses. The benchmark gauge has climbed 5.4 percent so far this year, as the European Central Bank disbursed more than 1 trillion euros (US$1.3 trillion) to the region’s financial institutions, US economic reports topped estimates and Greece won a second bailout.
“The market has stabilized after a couple of down weeks,” said Lawrence Peterman, investment director at Eden Financial in London. “The earnings coming through positively, both in the US and in Europe, seems to be quite reassuring.”
National benchmark indexes advanced in 13 of the 18 western European markets.
The UK’s FTSE 100 Index gained 2.1 percent, Germany’s DAX added 2.5 percent and France’s CAC 40 was little changed. Spain’s IBEX 35 Index lost 2.9 percent. The measure closed at the lowest since March 2009 on Thursday.
The global economy is expected to expand 3.5 percent this year and 4.1 percent next year, the IMF said on Tuesday, raising forecasts made in January from 3.3 percent for this year and 4 percent for next year.
In the US, 80 of the 94 Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies that reported quarterly earnings since April 10 beat analysts’ estimates, while 13 missed them, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Microsoft Corp and General Electric Co were among the companies that exceeded projections.
In Germany, investor confidence unexpectedly rose for a fifth month this month to the highest in almost two years. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research’s index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, climbed to 23.4 from 22.3 last month.
Another report on Friday showed German business confidence unexpectedly rose to a nine-month high this month. The Ifo institute’s business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, increased to 109.9 from 109.8 last month. Economists had forecast a drop to 109.5.
Spanish two-year notes fell for the seventh week, extending the longest run of weekly declines since January 2007, as the G20 said the euro-area debt crisis poses a threat to global growth.
Spain tapped the debt markets this week in the face of rising yields. The nation’s Treasury sold 2.54 billion euros of two-year and 10-year bonds at an auction on Thursday, meeting the maximum target of 2.5 billion euros.
Spain also sold 3.18 billion euros of bills on Tuesday, compared with a maximum target of 3 billion euros.
“The bond auctions are another piece of the jigsaw, but that situation is not going to go away for the next few months and it will be a drag on markets,” Peterman said.