European Stocks Rise as China's Economic Growth Increases

LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stocks rose after the U.K. jobless rate fell to its lowest level in five and a half years and as China's economic growth increased for the first time in three quarters.

Asian stocks were mixed.

In London, the FTSE 100 was up 0.90% at 6,770.81, while in Frankfurt the DAX gained 1.1% to 9.826.44. In Paris, the CAC 40 added 1.31% to 4,361.74.

A report from Britain's Office for National Statistics showed the jobless rate fell to 6.5% in the three months through May, the lowest since late 2008, from 6.6% in the previous three-month period. 

Global markets also took encouragement from China, where GDP rose a better-than-expected 7.5% from April to June.

In Milan, Gtech rose 4.28% to 19.23 euros, after the gaming company announced an agreement to buy Las Vegas-based International Game Technology ( IGT) for an enterprise value of $6.4 billion, including $1.75 billion in existing IGT debt. 

The combined entity, to be headquartered in the U.K. and traded on the New York Stock Exchange, will have more than $6 billion in annual sales. It joins IGT's leading game library and manufacturing and operating capabilities with Gtech's gaming operations, lottery technology and services.

In Lisbon, Banco Espirito Santo was up 18% at 0.449 euros after the head of Portugal's central bank said the bank's shareholders are willing to participate in a capital increase, after a second affiliate reportedly missed a debt payment. 

In Paris, shares in Casino Guichard-Perrachon rose 0.59% to 94.88 euros, after retailer posted higher-than expected second-quarter sales of €11.93 billion.

Among decliners, Royal Mail shed 0.16% to 487.30 pounds in London, after revealing it received a notice from French competition regulators about possible breaches of antitrust laws by one of its subsidiaries, GLS France. The company said that while it's too early to determine the amount or range of its potential loss, it is possible that it could be "material."

In Japan, the Nikkei fell 0.10% to 15,379, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng gained 0.27% to 23,523.28. 

Asian and European markets alike drew encouragement from a report showing China's economic growth sped up for the first time in three targets, meeting the government's growth target for this year.

In Sydney, mining company Rio Tinto ( RIO) rose 1.33% to 63.94 Australian dollars. The company said that second-quarter iron-ore production rose 11% while global iron ore shipments jumped 23%. CEO Sam Walsh said the company is being transformed into a "stronger, more disciplined business" delivering consistently strong cash flows and shareholder value.

Later Wednesday, investors will be looking to the U.S. for the June industrial production report.

EU leaders are also due to meet in Brussels to discuss expanding sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine conflict. The EU summit is is scheduled to start at at 6 p.m. local time and could go all night and into Thursday.

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