European shares gained, as investors expressed optimism over the global economy after U.S. durable-goods orders exceeded forecasts. The Asian stocks and U.S. stock-index futures also climbed.
Scottish insurer Standard Life Plc advanced 5.2 percent to 393.4 pence after announcing that one of its divisions it will buy Ignis Asset Management Ltd from Phoenix Group Holdings for 390 million pounds ($645 million).
PSA Peugeot Citroen gained 5 percent to 3.30 euros, after reports that orders of its 2008 crossover model rose to 120,000. Lloyds Banking Group plunged 4.9 percent to 79.23 pence after the British Treasury cut its stake in the bank from 33 percent to 25 percent.
Airbus Group NV rose 1.7 percent to 52.88 euros after reports emerged that it will extend its cooperation with Aviation Industry Corporation of China. Mediaset SPA, which is associated with former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, surged 2.6 percent to 3.98 euros after it announced full-year profits for 2013.
Bookmaker William Hill rose 2.5 percent to 347.7 pence after HSBC upgraded its stock to overweight or buy, up from underweight.
The Stoxx 600 was up 0.8 percent at 331.31 as of 12.34 p.m. in London trade. While the index has gained 2.1 percent since Monday, reversing its earlier decline of 4 percent over Ukraine-Russia tensions, it is still headed for a 2 percent decline in March, the biggest such since last June. S&P 500 Index futures rose 0.3 percent, while MSCI Asia Pacific Index inched 1 percent higher.
U.S. durable-goods orders grew 2.2 percent last month, exceeding economists’ prediction of a 0.8 percent growth, according to data from the Commerce Department.
“The durable goods data is a very important signpost for the U.S. economy as it is a very important proxy for investment activity,” Witold Bahrke, a Copenhagen-based strategist at PFA Asset Management told Bloomberg.
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