Investment picture now brighter: fund manager

European stocks advanced yesterday, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbing to the highest since July 26, as reports showed German investor confidence in March increased more than forecast and US retail sales rose in February.

Raiffeisen Bank International and UniCredit led lenders higher. Eramet, operator of the world’s biggest ferro-nickel plant, gained with metal prices. Antofagasta Plc fell after full-year profit missed analysts’ estimates.

The Stoxx 600 added 1.8% to 269.56 at the close, after euro-area finance ministers signed off on a second bailout for Greece. The benchmark index has rallied 10% so far this year.

“The sky is brightening,” said Jerome Forneris, who helps manage $11bn at Banque Martin Maurel in Marseilles.

In Germany, the ZEW Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which seeks to predict economic developments six months in advance, rose to 22.3 from 5.4 in February, its fourth straight increase.

Retail sales in the US rose in February by the most in five months, reflecting broad-based gains that indicate the world’s largest economy is picking up.

The 1.1% advance matched the median forecast of 81 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and followed a 0.6% increase in January that was larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed in Washington. Demand improved in 11 of 13 industry categories, including auto dealers and clothing stores.

— Bloomberg


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