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Europe: Shares lifted by positive business surveys, Commerzbank


[LONDON] European shares had a positive start to the week after business surveys (PMIs) from around the euro zone beat expectations, while Commerzbank's better-than-expected results brightened a mixed picture for earnings season.

Traders also noted supportive comments from the European Central Bank (ECB) after its president, Mario Draghi, said in an interview over the weekend that it was ready to do what it takes to keep its medium-term inflation target on course.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was up 0.3 per cent at the close, reversing early losses after weak Chinese data sparked global growth concerns, while the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index was up 0.5 per cent at the close.

"We've seen some strong German PMI figures which does breathe some optimism back into the market," Charles Hanover Investments advisory investment manager, Jonathan Roy, said, noting that investors were being driven back into equities on the expectation of higher earnings and more liquidity.

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Greek shares outperformed as investors welcomed the outcome of ECB stress tests on its four main banks.

Athens' ATG index was up 3.1 per cent, lifted by gains of nearly 30 per cent in Alpha Bank and Eurobank , while Piraeus Bank rose 18.3 per cent and the National Bank of Greece was up 7.7 per cent.

The ECB assessment found that the four banks had a collective capital shortfall of 14.4 billion euros, less than the 25 billion maximum earmarked for bank recapitalisation as part of the country's latest bailout programme.

"The Greek banking stress test results released over the weekend revealed that Greek banks are doing better than expected and consequently need less of a cash infusion than originally thought," Peregrine & Black sales trader Markus Huber said.

Mr Huber said sentiment in European stocks remained positive amid expectations of gains going into the end of the year.

Among standout gainers, Commerzbank rose 6.6 per cent after the German bank said it would pay a dividend for the first time since 2007 as its recovery gains ground.

But elsewhere in the sector, HSBC fell 0.8 per cent in spite of a better-than-expected 32-per cent rise in pretax profit for the third quarter, thanks to reduced costs.

Electrolux dropped 5.4 per cent after the U.S. Justice Department rejected the Swedish appliance maker's offer to settle a fight over whether it would be allowed to buy General appliance business.

French carmaker Renault rose 4.2 per cent. According to data published on Sunday, French car registrations rose 1 per cent in October, with Renault recovering some lost ground, while rival PSA Peugeot Citroen saw a fall.


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