The European markets rose for the first time in three days on Tuesday, as mining stocks rallied on firmer copper prices and banking stocks rebounded after nervousness about the fragile health of the sector eased.
After hitting a record low in February, the U.S. Conference Board's consumer confidence index showed a modest rebound in the month of March, although the increase was smaller than economists had been expecting. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index edged up to 26.0 in March from 25.3 in February, while economists had been expecting a somewhat more significant increase by the index to a reading of 28.0.
German unemployment increased in March on declining economic activity. A report from the Federal Labor Agency showed that seasonally adjusted unemployed persons in the largest Eurozone economy rose 69,000 in March, bigger than 50,000 increase in February. Economists had expected a relatively small increase of 52,000.
Crude oil prices fluctuated Tuesday on new indications that energy spending will be hobbled by consumer fears and also slowing growth in developing countries. Crude for May delivery fell $0.26 to $48.15 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 3.47% higher at 733.69 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 3.72% to 1,815.99 points.
Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 10 index climbed 4.345 to 3,926.14, while France's CAC 40 index surged up 3.245 to 2,807.34 and Germany's DAX index rose 2.39% to 4,084.76.
Mining stocks rallied after copper prices rose in London. BHP Billiton, the world's biggest miner, added 6.2%, while Anglo American, the second biggest, climbed 9.7% and copper miner Antofagasta surged up 5.4%. Xstrata, the world's fourth largest copper producer, gained 9.8%.
Banks were also among the top gainers. HSBC, Europe's largest bank, rose 6.6%, while UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, surged up 5.5% and BNP Paribas, France's biggest lender, climbed 6.8%. Lloyds Banking Group, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, rallied 9.1%.
Marks & Spencer, Britain's biggest clothing retailer, jumped 11.9% after the company reported a better than feared 4.2% drop in fourth quarter like-for-like sales.
British drugmaker Shire rallied 8.5% after it struck a deal with GlaxoSmithKline to co-promote its hyperactivity medicine Vyvanse in the United States. Glaxo shares gained 4.6%.
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