RTTNews - The European markets rose for the third day on Thursday, as U.S. government reports showing growth in retail sales and better-than-expected jobless claims data suggested that the recession is easing.

The U.S. Commerce Department said in its report that retail sales rose 0.5% in May following a revised 0.2% decrease in April. Economists had expected sales to increase by 0.5% compared to the 0.4% decrease originally reported for the previous month.

The U.S. Labor Department said Today that initial jobless claims came in at 601,000 for the week ended at June 6th. This was down 24,000 from the previous week's revised level of 625,000. The result marked the lowest total for initial jobless claims since the week of January 24th.

Crude for July delivery rose $1.22 to $72.54 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, by the time the European markets closed, after the release of the encouraging U.S. economic data and after International Energy Agency revised its demand estimate upward for the first time in 10 months. The contract climbed as high as $72.78 a barrel earlier in the session.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of pan-European blue chips closed 0.89% higher at 887.78 points, while the narrower DJ Stoxx 50 index rose 1.13% to 2,194.24 points.

Around Europe, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose 0.57% to 4,461.87, while France's CAC 40 index surged up 0.59% to 3,334.94 and Germany's DAX index climbed 1.115 to 5,107.26.

Economy sensitive banking stocks were among the top gainers. HSBC, Europe's largest bank, rose 2.3%, while UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, surged up 2.8% and BNP Paribas, the biggest French lender, climbed 2.6%. Barclays, Britain's third largest bank, gained 5.6%.

GlaxoSmithKline, Europe's biggest drugmaker, rose 2.6% after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to equal weight.

Electrolux, the world's second biggest home appliance maker, climbed 4.4% after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to buy from sell and added the stock to its conviction buy list.

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