European stocks advanced for a third straight week as data showing that the eurozone emerged from the longest recession on record outweighed speculation that the US Federal Reserve will trim its monetary stimulus.
Italian banks led gains as Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and Unione di Banche Italiane SCPA rallied at least 12 percent, while GAM Holding AG jumped the most in almost four years as the asset manager said its first-half profit more than tripled. Fresnillo PLC and Randgold Resources Ltd increased at least 9 percent as prices for gold and silver rallied.
The benchmark STOXX Europe 600 Index increased 0.1 percent to 306.36 this week, extending its advance to 9.5 percent for the year. The Euro STOXX 50 Index added 1 percent for a sixth week of gains.
National benchmark indices advanced in 13 of the 18 western European markets this week. France’s CAC 40 climbed 1.2 percent, Germany’s DAX increased 0.6 percent, the UK’s FTSE 100 sank 1.3 percent and the Swiss Market Index retreated 0.2 percent.
GDP in the 17-nation eurozone expanded 0.3 percent in the second quarter after a six straight periods of contraction, according a report on released on Wednesday. That exceeded the median estimate of 0.2 percent growth in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
“For the first time in two years, with a continuation of positive news flows, the man on the street might go out and purchase that car he’s been thinking about, the new television or remodel his house,” Kevin Lilley, head of European Equities at Old Mutual Global Investors, said by telephone.
The STOXX 600 slid 1.1 percent on Thursday, the most in five weeks, as a US Department of Labor report showed initial jobless benefit claims unexpectedly dropped to the lowest level in almost six years.
The Fed will probably reduce its US$85 billion in monthly debt purchases at its meeting on Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, according to 65 percent of economists surveyed by Bloomberg between Aug. 9 and Tuesday. In a survey last month, half of economists predicted a reduction at next month’s meeting.
Italian banks posted the biggest gains in the STOXX 600, as the extra yield investors demand to hold the nation’s 10-year bonds over benchmark German bunds shrank to the lowest level in two years. Monte Paschi surged 14 percent, UBI rallied 12 percent and GAM jumped 15 percent, the most since October 2009.
Fresnillo, the world’s largest primary silver producer, surged 13 percent and Randgold, a producer of the precious metal in Africa, jumped 9.1 percent. Gold climbed to the highest price in almost two months and silver to the highest since May.
A measure of travel and leisure companies posted the biggest decline of 19 industry groups in the STOXX 600, retreating 2.3 percent.
Thomas Cook Group PLC tumbled 9.9 percent for the biggest drop in five months. UBS AG removed the 172-year-old UK tour operator from its list of preferred stocks, citing the “high-profile media coverage” of violent demonstrations in Egypt.
TUI Travel PLC, Europe’s largest tour operator, retreated 4.6 percent, the most in four months.