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The Deal: European Shares Edge Higher as Yellen Galvanizes Stocks

Stocks in this article: BHP

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stocks edged higher on Tuesday after a largely positive day in Asia, where reassuring comments from Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen galvanized indices.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.41% at 6,625.19. The DAX in Frankfurtgained 0.44% to 9,597.57. In Paris, the CAC 40 rose 0.63% to 4,419.23.

Yellen, in a speech Monda,y highlighted the slack in the U.S. economy and labor-market weakness, calming investors whom she had previously spooked with earlier commentary about the interest-rate outlook.

In Europe on Tuesday, diverging trends within the eurozone labor market came to the fore with separate reports. Domestic information showed that German unemployment fell more than expected in March, declining by a seasonally adjusted 12,000 and putting the adjusted rate at 6.7%, below consensus forecasts for a rate of 6.8%. Separate data from the European Commission's statistics arm showed the eurozone unemployment rate was unchanged in February at 11.9%. It has held unchanged at the level since October.

From the U.S., a raft of industrial data out Tuesday includes the closely watched Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index for March, which economists expect to have edged up to reading of 54.0 from 53.2.

In Helsinki, pumps and valves maker Metso was up almost 13% by mid-morning after the mining equipment maker said it was considering an unsolicited approach from Weir Group. The Times of London had reported that Glasgow-based Weir was in informal talks with Metso about a bid worth about 30 euros per share, or 4.5 billion euros, but Metso said it hadn't actually started talks. The reported value of the offer would be about 26% more than Monday's closing price. In London, Weir dropped only marginally.

Staying in London, BHP Billiton (BHP), the U.K.-listed part of the Anglo-Australian mining giant, was up more than 1% after it confirmed it was considering a spinoff of assets as part of a "simplification" which could narrow its focus to on iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum, and maybe potash as well.

Also in London, interdealer broker Icap was up almost 3% after announcing in an update on the financial year that ended Monday that full-year results will be in line with expectations, even after trading activity at its brokerage business declined.

In Paris, Alstom rose almost 7% after agreeing to sell a unit to German buyout firm Triton for just over $1 billion.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei fell 0.24% to 14,791.11 as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's feared sales tax increase took effect. The increase was the first since 1997 and takes the levy to 8% from 5%. It will rise to 10% in October 2015.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rose 1.34% to close at 22,448.54.

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