Europe close: Renewed confidence in europe buoys stocks



LONDON (ShareCast) - - Major equity benchmarks end on a mixed note
- Confidence (BSE: ZCONFIDE.BO - news) in periphery improves, leaders say

FTSE-100: 0.56%
Dax (Xetra: ^GDAXI - news) -30: 0.08%
Cac-40: 0.06%
FTSE Mibtel 30: -0.17%
Ibex 35: -0.41%
Stoxx 600: 0.23%

All but the FTSE Mibtel and Ibex indices ended the day in the blue after a series of gilt auctions, the release of national statistics and political opinions were aired by key decision makers.

European confidence growing

A sense of confidence was infused in European markets when European Comission Vice President Ollie Rehn told a press conference in Madrid that there was steadily growing confidence in Spain inspite of the ongoing difficult social situation faced by many in the country.

In a joint press conference delivered alongside Spanish Economics Minister Luis De Guidos, Rehn noted the advances which had been achieved by the country, which he said reflected decisions taken in both Spain and in the Eurozone.

"We have seen important progress in Spain towards a more sustainable growth model and it is important that long-standing obstacles to growth and competitiveness are being removed," Rehn said.

Going forwards, he painted an optimistic if pragmatic picture for the country and Europe: "This will be another difficult year, but I am confident that it will also be the year in which the corner is turned, in which Spain and the euro area as a whole can move from stabilisation to a sustained recover."

The message of confidence was further reinforced when Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras gave an interview with the BBC stating that that he was certain 2013 would be the last year of the recession in Greece. His views follow months of uncertainty surrounding the health of the Greek nation and its potential to destabilise geopolitical relations in the rest of Europe. The minister said that Greece's recovery could commence in the last quarter of 2013.

"We have managed to turn the economy around," he was quoted as saying. "From the markets, there is much more optimism. Deposits are coming back to the banks, the government is paying its arrears to the private sector and there is a change in how Europe sees us. All the leading indicators are positive." He added that he believed Greece was two thirds of its way towards its target.

Housing market picking up

Meanwhile, encouraging house price data released from the US and the UK added flavour to the US and UK markets with both indicating continuing growth in the residential homes sector.

Data from the UK's land registry indicated that house prices rose by 1.7% in Wales and England, representing the fastest rise in two years.

In the US, the picture was equally positive, with average house prices rising for the 10th consecutive month. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index - a barometre of growth in the US housing market - recorded an 0.6% rise in prices compared to the previous month.

Anglo American (LSE: AAL.L - news) rose 3% on the same day that it completed a cost and schedule review of its Minas-Rio ore project in Brazil. The review included third party input and examined the outstanding capital expenditure requirements in light of current development progress and the disruptive challenges faced by the project.

Fallers on the stock markets included Petra Diamonds, whose share price fell 4.8%. This was in spite of the company posting a 54% increase in its half yearly revenue in the six months to December 31st. In a trading update published by the company, Petra Diamonds stated that production had increased by 31% to 1.2m carats compared to 1.0m carats in the first half of 2012.

Consumer products (Other OTC: CPSV - news) giant PZ Cussons (LSE: PZC.L - news) also fell 5.4% following the publication of its results for the six months to December. Revenues for the period were flat with a modest 0.02% climb to £414.8m. The group reported that it had returned to profitability in Australia after implementing business improvement measures. Chairman Richard Harvey reported that performance since tghe period end had been in line with expectations."

The euro/dollar rose 0.16% to the 1.3477 mark.

Front month Brent crude futures rose 0.613 to the 114.180 dollar mark on the ICE.