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European Stocks Get Lift From Positive Earnings

LONDON (The Deal) -- European stock indices rose on Tuesday after a string of predominantly positive earnings reports with large-cap companies including Deutsche Bank (DB) and Norway's Statoil (STO) among the gainers. In Finland, Nokia (NOK) spelled out how it will use the funds from its $7.5 billion handset sale to Microsoft (MSFT) and named its new CEO.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.53% at 6,735.37 by mid-morning. In Frankfurt, the DAX climbed 0.63% to 9,506.30 and in Paris the CAC 40 was up 0.05% at 4,462.80.

In the U.K., the government's statistics office said first-quarter GDP expanded 3.1% year-on-year, the fastest annual growth rate in more than six years but slightly below consensus expectations, providing comfort that the Bank of England won't raise rates just yet. The economy expanded 0.8% from the previous quarter.

In the eurozone, a gauge of eurozone economic sentiment, as measured by the European Commission, unexpectedly deteriorated in April.

But the markets focal point this week is the Federal Reserve, which begins a two-day policy meeting Tuesday and may announce a further cutback to its monthly bond buying program.

In Helsinki, Nokia rose more than 7% after the company announced that insider Rajeev Suri will replace Stephen Elop as CEO after Elop returned to former employer Microsoft on the completion last week of the $7.5 billion sale of Nokia's handset unit to the Redmond, Wash., software giant.

The Finnish company, which is focusing on the networking equipment business that Suri previously headed, also announced it will return more than 3 billion euros ($4.2 billion) to shareholders through buybacks and a dividend as it released first-quarter results.

In Paris, eyewear maker Essilor International rose almost 4% as it reported a first-quarter rebound in the U.S. and strong emerging market sales growth but pharma company Sanofi declined as its own first-quarter results fell slightly short of forecasts.

Also in France, telecom Orange  was up about 4% after the company reported a "very satisfactory" first quarter, with profit margins stabilized after a bout of damaging price competition, and restated its full-year targets.

In Frankfurt, Infineon led the DAX higher after announcing that full-year results would be at the upper end of previous guidance as it posted second-quarter results.

Deutsche Bank was the second biggest riser, gaining after first-quarter results fell less than expected, allaying fears the bank is headed for a multi-billion-euro share sale. Profit declined 34% to 1.1 billion euros.

In Norway, Statoil rose after reporting that higher U.S. gas prices had pushed quarterly earnings ahead of expectations.

But in Zurich, ABB fell more than 6% after posting a 13% decline in first-quarter Ebitda to $1.27 billion, which it put down to a weak performance at its power systems division. Societe Generale withdrew its buy recommendation.

In Madrid, Banco Santander, the eurozone's largest lender by market value, rose only marginally after it announced it will spend up to about  4.7 billion euros buying back a 25% stake in its Brazilian unit and revealed that a strong U.K. performance had helped push first-quarter profit up 8% to 1.3 billion euros.

In London, drugmaker Shire and gas producer BG Group both rose on bid speculation. Shire is seen as a target amid an intensifying round of pharma consolidation, led by Pfizer's (PFE) $100 billion-plus pursuit of AstraZeneca (AZN), while the latter entered the bid spotlight on the surprise resignation on Monday of CEO Chris Finlayson.

In Seoul, Samsung closed down more than 2% on disappointing quarterly sales and earnings and on a third-party report that showed its smartphone market share had slipped in the first quarter by a percentage point to 31%.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng surged 1.45% to close at 22,453.89.

In Tokyo, markets were closed for a public holiday.

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