European stocks hit fresh 6-year highs

European stocks hit fresh 6-year highs

European equities hit fresh six year highs on Monday as firming commodity prices helped lift oil stocks, miners and industrial metals groups, while strong sales helped Swiss watchmaker Swatch.

By late morning in London, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.4 per cent to 1,525.5, Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax added 0.2 per cent to 6,758.26, the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.4 per cent to 5,639.17 and London’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.5 per cent to 6,266.9.

Swatch, the world’s largest watchmaker, reported a 12.3 per cent rise in 2006 sales, adding that it expected full-year operating profit to above average. The company said it expected 2006 to be a record and forecast the trend to continue in 2007. The shares gained 3.1 per cent to SFr290.50.

Austrian bank Raiffeisen International gained 2.8 per cent to EU112.69 after Morgan Stanley raised its price target, saying it had underestimated the bank’s asset growth potential. Raiffeisen was one of the Eurofirst 300′s best performing stocks over 2006, gaining 107 per cent over the year.

DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX) led the auto sector higher after JPMorgan raised its price target from EU50 to EU55, keeping its “overweight” rating. The broker said it expected the German carmaker to focus on returning its US Chrysler unit to profit when it announces its 2007 targets next month. Shares gained 1.4 per cent to EU49.50.

German car parts maker Continental gained 2.1 per cent to EU94.77 after Merrill Lynch lifted its target price from EU110 to EU120 in expectation of capital restructuring in the coming months.

Oil prices took a turn higher as the US winter entered a chilly spell. Crude prices stood near $53 a barrel, having fallen below $50 at the tail end of last week.

Norway’s Statoil (NYSE:STO) gained 1.7 per cent to NKr161.75, while Austria’s OMV added 1.6 per cent to EU41 and Royal Dutch Shell climbed 0.8 per cent to EU26.63.

Source: via

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