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European stocks rise as carmakers, miners gain, oil pares drop

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[FRANKFURT] European stocks rebounded as carmakers and commodity producers surged, while energy companies pared declines with oil.

BMW AG led automakers to the biggest advance among industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Miners recovered, with Rio Tinto Group and BHP Billiton Ltd. pacing gains as base metals rose. While crude trimmed losses, it still pulled energy producers to the worst performance on the equity benchmark, with Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc weighing heaviest.

The Stoxx 600 added 0.5 per cent to 344.34 at 4:30 pm in London, after earlier sliding as much as 1.4 per cent. European stocks, which hit their highest levels ever a year ago, have struggled for fresh impetus after rebounding as much as 14 per cent from a Feb 11 low. The Stoxx 600 has traded in a tight range in the past month amid renewed concern over global growth prospects, and is down about 5.9 per cent since the start of the year.

"The price of oil is driving the market higher," said John Plassard, a senior equity-sales trader at Mirabaud Securities LLP in Geneva. "Even if it's still negative, it's less negative than at the open since the Doha outcome was largely expected and there's rumors of a new meeting before June."

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Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and Unione di Banche Italiane SpA paced a recovery in banking stocks with gains of at least 6.2 per cent. TUI AG pushed travel-and-leisure stocks up after Berenberg Bank raised its rating on the company to buy from hold, saying the recent underperformance of tour operators is overdone.

Investors are also assessing earnings reports for clues on corporate health, with analysts predicting profit at Stoxx 600 companies will shrink in 2016, reversing earlier calls for growth. The index trades at about 15.8 times estimated profit, which is almost 20 per cent above the average multiple for the past five years.

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc added 1.9 per cent after reporting first-quarter revenue growth that met analysts' estimates, boosted by sales of Durex condoms and Strepsils throat lozenges.

Apple Inc suppliers ARM Holdings Plc and Dialog Semiconductor fell at least 3.3 per cent on speculation the iPhone maker will cut production amid slower-than-expected sales of the 6S and 6S Plus models.