Milan shares close up as German economy's prospects improve

Spread remains stable

Milan shares close up as German economy's prospects improve

Milan, February 19 - European stocks edged higher Tuesday on the back of a positive outlook for the German economy and a set of positive earnings results from companies including food and beverage giant Groupe Danone and hospitality leader InterContinental Hotels Group. Investors were cheered by the results of the German ZEW survey of economic expectations for February, which jumped to 48.2 from a forecast of 35.0 and a reading of 31.5 in January. Of the main European indexes, France's CAC40 lead in gains, closing up 1.88% at 3735.82, followed by Germany's DAX, which ended the day up 1.62% at 7752.45. Italy's FTSE MIB climbed 1.57% to 16664.42, followed by Spain's IBEX35, up 1.44% at 8225.3, while London's FTSE 100 ended up 0.96% at 6379.07. In Italy, shares of media group Cairo Communication jumped 12% after the company reported it was in exclusive talks to buy television broadcaster La 7 from Telecom Italia unit Telecom Italia Media, which, on the contrary, lost nearly 9% on the sale news. Meanwhile, Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset television group also jumped, by 5.2%, after Berlusconi hinted that he might return to fill the prime minister's shoes should his People of Freedom (PdL) party win national elections. Italian luxury goods group Tod's gained 5.4% on the back of a positive report from investment bank Nomura. Banks also performed well Tuesday, with troubled lender MPS gaining 3.8%, followed by Unicredit (+2.4%) and Intesa Sanpaolo (+2.1%). The Italian bond spread with the German benchmark on Tuesday ended the day unchanged with respect to Monday's close of 277 basis points. The spread is an important gauge of investor confidence in the Italian economy. The yield Tuesday on 10-year paper also remained unchanged with respect to Monday's close, at 4.40%.

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