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European Markets Rise After German Data

3/26/2012 7:28 AM ET

The European markets are in positive terriotry on Monday, after a report showing improvement in Germany's business confidence lifted spirits. Markets across Asia/Pacific were cautious while the U.S. index futures point to a higher open.

Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) led by Chancellor Angela Merkel appears to be on course to win elections held in the western Saarland state, preliminary results and exit polls showed. Preliminary results indicate that the CDU would receive at least 35.2 percent of the votes polled in Saarland state elections, thereby consolidating its 12-year hold hold on the state governor's office.

Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister and economist Mario Monti expressed concerns about Spain's public finances and warned the European Union is worried about "contagion" from Spain's debt crisis. Spain's IBEX 35 index is falling 1.3 percent.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is rising 0.11 percent, while the Stoxx Europe 50 index, which includes some major U.K. companies, is gaining 0.44 percent.

The German DAX is rising 0.67 percent and the French CAC 40 is advancing 0.13 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is adding 0.48 percent and Switzerland's SMI is gaining 0.46 percent.

In Frankfurt, Henkel is gaining 2.3 percent. Linde and Basf are notably higher.

Daimler is up 0.9 percent, while BMW and Volkswagen are moderately down.

Deutsche Bank is losing 0.4 percent and Commerzbank is marginally down.

Metro is declining 2.15 percent. Insurer Allianz and steel giant ThyssenKrupp are notably lower.

WestLB raised SMA Solar to "Add" from "Neutral." The stock is up 0.7 percent.

Berenberg lowered its rating on Douglas to "Sell" from "Hold." The stock is losing 1 percent.

In Paris, Technip is surging 4.1 percent. The company won a 600 million euros worth contract from BP and its operating partners in the UK North Sea-based Quad 204 project.

Essilor International is gaining 1.4 percent and Publicis Groupe is rising 1.3 percent.

Schneider Electric and Pernod-Ricard are adding 1 percent each. Societe Generale raised Schneider Electric to "Buy" from "Hold."

ArcelorMittal is declining 1.8 percent. Bouygues, Axa, EDF and Saint-Gobain are notably lower.

Peugeot is declining 1.5 percent while Renault is up 0.4 percent.

Credit Agricole is losing 1.6 percent. BNP Paribas and Societe Generale are falling 1 percent each.

In London, Aberdeen Asset Mangement is climbing 3.8 percent after stating that assets under management at February 29 totalled 184.4 billion pounds.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca said a federal district court dismissed without prejudice on Friday its request for a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration regarding final marketing approval of generic quetiapine, sold under the brand name Seroquel. The stock is flat.

Petrofac is up about 2 percent. Reed Elsevier also is gaining 2 percent. Wolseley is adding 2.4 percent.

EasyJet is climbing over 7 percent after trimming its loss forecast for the first half of the year.

HSBC confirmed that its wholly-owned subsidiary The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd. is in discussions concerning a possible sale of its Retail Banking and Wealth Management business in Mauritius. The stock is flat.

BG is advancing 1.3 percent after announcing the fourth gas discovery in its Tanzania-based Jodari-1 exploration well. Its partner Ophir Energy is climbing over 19 percent.

Lamprell is climbing 4.8 percent. The company more than doubled its annual revenues.

Diploma is up about 3 percent after the supplier of specialized technical products projected higher revenues for its first half.

Lundin Petroleum is climbing 7.2 percent in Stockholm after reporting a well appraisal in Norway.

Banco Bilbao is falling 2.3 percent in Madrid and A Banco Santander is losing 1.9 percent. Banco de Sabadell is losing 3.3 percent.

In economic news, German business confidence improved to 109.8 in March from 109.7 a month ago, the Munich-based Ifo institute reportedly said. The index stayed above the expected reading of 109.5.

Separately, a leading indicator of the Eurozone economy increased for the third consecutive month in February, led by investor and business confidence, data from a survey by Conference Board revealed. The Conference Board leading economic index for the euro area increased 0.8 percent to 105.2, after rising 1.1 percent in January.

Across Asia/Pacific, markets were cautious, partly in response to disappointing new home sales data from the U.S. and concerns about a slowdown in China. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose slightly to close up 0.05 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 ended up 0.07 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended flat while Australia's All Ordinaries lost 0.13 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a slightly higher open for the markets. Wall Street finished a choppy day of trading in positive territory on Friday. The Dow gained 0.27 percent, the Nasdaq advanced 0.15 percent and the S&P 500 climbed 0.3 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is sliding $0.19 to $106.68 per barrel and April gold is losing $1.5 to $1660.9 a troy ounce.

by RTT Staff Writer

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