The Stoxx Europe 600 Index extended its five-day rally to 2.1%, its biggest weekly advance in two months. A gauge of lenders contributed the most to the equity benchmark’s advance today as DNB ASA, Norway’s largest bank, jumped 4.5% after increasing its lending rates. The Norwegian government has proposed stricter rules for lenders to cool down the housing market. Credit Suisse Group AG added 3.8% after UBS AG recommended buying the shares.
Lagardere SCA rallied 4.8% after the publisher of Paris Match magazine returned to profit in 2012. Fugro NV surged 14%, the biggest advance in the Stoxx Europe 600, after the oilfield surveyor announced net income for 2012 that exceeded analysts’ estimates and a bigger dividend than expected.
The yen weakened against all of its 16 major peers after Japan’s Ministry of Finance said the deficit in the current account, the widest measure of trade, increased to 364.8 billion yen ($3.8 billion) in January, from 264.1 billion yen in December.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rallied 2.6%, closing above the level before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Another report showed Japan’s economy grew at an annual rate of 0.2% in the fourth quarter, compared with a preliminary calculation of a 0.4% contraction. China’s exports in February beat economists’ estimates, while imports plunged.