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Europe: Stocks rise as euro slides


[LONDON] European stock markets rose on Monday, boosted by a weaker euro, as investors also looked forward to important corporate results and economic data due out this week.

Frankfurt's DAX 30 index climbed 1.44 per cent to 11,619.85 points and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.70 per cent to 5,081.97.

Trading was closed in London due to a holiday.

Madrid's Ibex-35 gained 0.39 per cent and Milan's FTSE Mib advanced 0.75 per cent after the long May 1 weekend.

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Switzerland's SMI moved 0.21 per cent higher as share prices of Swiss agro-chemical company Syngenta surged 8.11 per cent on unconfirmed reports that US giant Monsanto is interested in a merger.

Meanwhile the euro weakened against the dollar, dropping to $1.1144 from $1.1200 in New York late Friday.

"The rebound was mostly technical," said Renaud Murail, a trader at Barclays Bourse in Paris.

The logic is that "when the euro falls, the stock markets rise" as the weaker currency is likely to boost export sales of eurozone companies.

The euro rallied last week on indications the US Federal Reserve may hold off on raising interest rates, the prospect of which has been driving the dollar higher, after the US economy was unexpectedly weak in the first quarter.

Markets across Europe rebounded from early trading losses following publication of Markit Economics's closely-watched Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the eurozone that showed manufacturing continued to expand in April.

The final eurozone manufacturing PMI came in at 52.0, up from the initial estimate of 51.9 but down from the 52.2 in March.

The index, which is calculated from surveys of business, is seen as a reliable indicator of economic trends. A score above 50 indicates expansion.

US stocks moved higher reassured by a rebound in US factory orders in March after seven straight months of decline.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.42 per cent to stand at 18,100.16 points in midday trade.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.40 per cent to 2,116.65, while the tech-rich Nasdaq gained 0.40 per cent to 5,025.50.

New orders for manufactured goods leaped 2.1 per cent in March from February to $476.5 billion, pushed higher by commercial and defense aircraft orders, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

Compared with a year ago, factory orders were down 4.8 per cent in March.

Back in Europe traders remained mindful of ongoing negotiations between Greece and its international creditors to free up 7.2 billion (US$8 billion) in bailout money Athens sorely needs to run the government and honour looming debt repayments.

The fractious talks to unblock the funds have stalled amid Athens' resistance to accept tough reforms creditors demand, raising the spectre of a potential Greek default and unruly euro exit - or "Grexit" - should no deal be concluded.

On Monday Greek officials requested creditors give them some financial breathing space based on progress already made towards an overall accord, saying "there is no more liquidity in the Greek economy." The plea was made as Athens scrambles to come up with a total of one billion euros in loan repayments due to the IMF by mid-May.

"We continue to see a 70 per cent probability that, possibly with quite some political noise in Athens in the meantime, Greece will strike a deal in the end and stay in the euro, with a 30 per cent risk of Grexit," said Berenberg chief economist Holger Schmieding.

"Things may get lively in the next few days as the ECB will reportedly discuss Greece on 6 May and Eurogroup finance ministers may demand serious progress before their 11 May meeting."

Most Asian stocks posted cautious gains following Friday's stronger Wall Street finish, and with markets in Tokyo, Thailand and Malaysia shut for public holidays.

Asian markets were also buoyed by gloomy Chinese economic data that heightened expectations for more stimulus measures, after a survey of manufacturing activity recorded China's worst contraction in a year in April.

Shanghai added 0.87 per cent, Seoul closed up 0.24 per cent and Sydney rose 0.23 per cent, while Hong Kong stocks ended down 0.03 per cent.