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European Stocks Rally on Potential Russa/Ukraine Cease-Fire

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stock indices rallied on Wednesday, galvanized by news of a potential cease-fire in Ukraine and a strong performance from Asia.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed on a "cease-fire process," correcting an earlier statement that a "permanent cease-fire" had been agreed upon. The Kremlin said the two leaders had "coincided significantly" on possible ways to end the crisis, British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

In Moscow, the Micex surged 2.89% to 1,440.08.

In London, the FTSE rose 0.74% to 6,879.59. In Frankfurt the DAX jumped 1.23% to 9,623.54 and in Paris the CAC 40 gained 1.15% to 4,428.85.

European Central Bank policymakers meet to set rates on Thursday and will announce their decision at 1:45 p.m. Frankfurt time. The eurozone's benchmark rate currently stands at 0.15% and recent data has stoked hopes of new monetary stimuli.

Markit Economic purchasing managers' indices for the services sector in August confirmed a picture of economic fragility, with the eurozone, French, German and Italian indices all declining more than expected. In the U.K., the index posted its sharpest month-on-month increase in August since last October.

In Frankfurt, Hugo Boss (BOSSY) shares fell more than 1% as Permira prepared to sell 7.9 million shares, or just over 11% of the company, in a secondary offering handled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup.

Airline Deutsche Lufthansa (DLAKY) was up more than 2% on news it had agreed to forge a cargo joint venture with ANA Holdings covering routes connecting Japan and Europe. ANA closed up 1.1% in Tokyo.

United Internet climbed almost 2.8% on an agreement to acquire buyout group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' 74.9% stake in cable group Versatel for about 586 million euros ($769 million) plus another 361 million euros to repay Versatel bank debt.

In Paris, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton rose 3.1% but Hermes International fell 5.9% after the two companies settled a long-running dispute over LVMH stakebuilding in its peer with a deal for LVMH to distribute about 23% of Hermes to its own shareholders. The peace deal ends hopes of a possible bid for Hermes by its unwanted shareholder.

In London, wholesaler Booker Group was down about 5.6% on news that Metro, Europe's largest cash-and-carry operator, would sell its 9% stake.

FTSE 100 broker Hargreaves Lansdown fell almost 4.6% after posting record but below-forecast full-year profit and warning of challenges in the year ahead.

But Weir Group, which supplies equipment to the oil industry, led the FTSE 100 higher, rising more than 2%. Credit Suisse Group on Tuesday had lifted its recommendation on the company to outperform from neutral.

Asian indices ended the day overwhelmingly in the green. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.38% at 15,728.35, aided by a weaker yen. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng jumped 2.3% to 25,137.95. Chinese indices were buoyed by HSBC Holdings plc/Markit Economics composite purchasing managers' index, which rose in August for the fourth consecutive month.

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