The European markets rose for the second day on Thursday, helped by upbeat earnings from BASF and BG Group as well as speculation that the worst of the global economic crisis is over.
In economic news, the U.S. Labor Department revealed that initial jobless claims came in at 631,000 for the week ended April 25th, down 14,000 from last week's revised total of 645,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 640,000 originally reported for the previous week.
The U.S. Commerce Department said in its report that personal income fell 0.3% in March following a 0.2% decrease in February. Economists had been expecting a slightly more modest decrease in income of about 0.2%.
The report also showed that personal spending fell 0.2% in March following an upwardly revised 0.4% increase in the previous month. Spending had been expected to edge down 0.1% compared to the 0.2% increase originally reported for February.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 1.64% higher at 829.75 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 1.48% to 2,026.97 points.
Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 1.29% to 4,243.71, while France's CAC 40 index surged up 1.38% to 3,159.85 and Germany's DAX index climbed 1.38% to 4,769.45.
BASF, the world's biggest chemicals maker, surged up 7.4% after the company reported first-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimate.
BG Group, Britain's third-largest natural gas producer, rose 1.5% after the company reported earnings excluding inventory changes and one-time items that beat analysts' estimates.
BskyB, Britain's biggest pay- television provider, climbed 4.7% after the company reported higher operating profit and sales for the three months ended March 31.
Banks were also among the top gainers. Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain's second largest bank, rallied 13.6%, while Barclays, the third largest, climbed 9.8% and Lloyds Banking Group, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, surged up 8.2%.
DSG International, Britain's largest consumer electronics retailer, jumped 15% after the company said it plans to raise £310.6 million selling new shares.
Invensys gained 10.7% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to equal weight from underweight.
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