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European Markets Rise On Alcoa Profit; Banks Gain On Upgrade

The European markets rose on Wednesday, after U.S. aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. reported a surprise profit. Banks rallied on a sector upgrade. Most major markets across Asia/Pacific fell, while the U.S. index futures are higher.

Alcoa said after the U.S. markets closed on Tuesday that its first quarter profit fell 69 percent from last year, as higher costs and expenses more than offset a small increase in revenue. However, the company's quarterly earnings surprised Wall Street analysts who were expecting the company to report a loss.

The Euro Stoxx 50 index of eurozone bluechip stocks is advancing 1.34 percent, while the Stoxx Europe.

The German DAX is adding 1.17 percent and the French CAC 40 is rising 1.09 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 is gaining 0.60 percent and the Swiss market is rising 0.08 percent.

HSBC raised European banks to "Overweight" for the first time in four years.

Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank gained 4.4 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, on the DAX.

Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler are gaining between 3.6 percent and 2.2 percent. Volkswagen and BMW reported solid increases in sales in March.

Infineon Technologies is losing 1.1 percent.

HSBC reduced its rating on Drillisch to "Neutral" from "Overweight." The stock is down 0.41 percent.

HSBC cut Freenet to "Neutral" from "Overweight." The stock is falling 0.60 percent.

Pfeiffer Vacuum is losing about 2 percent after HSBC reduced Pfeiffer Vacuum to "Underweight" from "Neutral."

In Paris, Peugeot and Renault are gaining 3.5 percent and 1.5 percent, in that order.

BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Societe Generale are advancing between 3.2 percent and 1.4 percent.

Bouygues is up 1.1 percent. Its subsidiary Bouygues B√Ętiment International has signed an agreement to acquire 100 per cent of U.K. contractor Thomas Vale Group.

Technip is up 1 percent. The company secured from INPEX Corp. a flexible pipe supply lump sum contract for the Ichthys gas field in Australia.

EADS is up 1.2 percent. Merrill Lynch raised the stock to Europe 1 List and increased its price target to 42 euros from 36 euros.

Essilor International is losing 1.2 percent.

In London, Barclays is gaining 3.8 percent and Lloyds banking is rising 3.2 percent.

G4S is up 2.6 percent on a broker upgrade.

BT Group is falling 2 percent. Shire is losing 2.3 percent.

Michael Page is losing about 4 percent after issuing a trading update.

Getinge is plunging 6.4 percent in Stockholm. SBM Offshore is falling 1.5 percent in Amsterdam.

Givaudan, a Swiss manufacturer of fragrance and flavour products, said it experienced a strong start to the year, with first-quarter sales increasing 4.7 percent. The stock is rising 3.5 percent.

In economic news, Germany's wholesale price inflation slowed for the second consecutive month in March, data released by the Federal Statistical Office showed. The wholesale price index increased 2.2 percent on an annual basis in March, slower than the 2.6 percent growth seen in February.

Across Asia/Pacific, Australia's All Ordinaries and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.06 percent each. Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.83 percent. However, China's Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.13 percent.

In the U.S., futures point to a higher open on Wall Street. In the previous session, the major averages ended the session near their worst levels of the day. The Dow tumbled 1.7 percent, the Nasdaq plunged 1.8 percent and the S&P 500 plummeted 1.7 percent.

In the commodity space, crude for May delivery is adding $0.48 to $101.50 per barrel while June gold is losing $4.3 to $1656.4 a troy ounce.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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