RTTNews - The European markets rose for the third day on Wednesday, as banking and retail stocks gained on speculation that the worst of the global recession is over and the economy is in a recovery mode.

The National Association of Realtors said in a report that existing home sales in the U.S. rose 2.9% to an annual rate of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised rate of 4.55 million units in March. Despite the monthly increase, existing home sales were down 3.5% year-over-year. Economists had expected sales to rise to a 4.66 million unit rate from the 4.57 million unit rate originally reported for the previous month.

French consumer confidence index rose to minus 40 in May from minus 41 in April, INSEE said. The reading was in line with economists' expectations. In a separate release, the statistical office said the business confidence in May rose to 72 from 71 in April, while it was expected to rise to 73.

Crude for July delivery rose $1.24 to $63.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, by the European markets closed, on signs that the global recession may be easing and demands for oil could rebound.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.63% higher at 870.63 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 0.61% to 2,138.47 points.

Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 10 index rose 0.10% to 4,416.23, while France's CAC 40 index climbed 0.76% to 3,294.86 and Germany's DAX index surged up 0.30% to 5,000.77.

Banks were among the top gainers. HSBC, Europe's largest bank, climbed 2%, while BNP Paribas, France's largest, rose 1.5% and UBS, Switzerland's biggest lender, surged up 1.7%.

Shares of retailers also rallied. Tesco, Britain's largest retailer, rose 2.8%, while Carrefour, Europe's largest retailer, climbed 3.9% and Metro, Germany's largest retailer, surged up 3.8%.

Elsewhere, Danisco, the Nordic region's biggest food-ingredient maker, jumped 13% after the company raised its full year earnings forecast.

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