LONDON ( The Deal) -- European stocks rose on Thursday as a jump in German business confidence signaled an end-of-year rebound in Europe's largest economy, and as the Swiss Central Bank introduced negative interest rates. 

Benchmark indices were all in positive territory, with the FTSE 100 in London advancing 1.13% to 6,407.84, the CAC 40 in Paris up 2.5% at 4,214.81, and the DAX in Frankfurt jumping 2.03% to 9.738.32. 

Investors cheered the second monthly rise in Germany's Ifo business climate index to 105.5 in December from 104.7 in November, as improvements in manufacturing and wholesaling indicators outpaced declines in retailing and construction. The indicator, put out by the Munich-based Ifo research institute, is based on a survey of 7,000 business executives. 

In Switzerland, stocks from cement maker Holcim  (HCMLY) to pharmaceuticals giant Novartis (NVS)  led the benchmark index higher after the country's central bank announced new negative rates and pledged to purchase foreign currency in "unlimited quantities" and to take further measures if needed. 

By mid-day, the Swiss Market Index was up 1.94% at 8946.05. 

European markets also took their cue from Wednesday's gains across the Atlantic after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signaled the Fed would keep interest rates near zero for the next few months. 

In Paris, French retailer Carrefour  (CRRFY) gained 2.5% after announcing the sale of a 10% stake in its Brazilian subsidiary to Peninsula, a investment company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Abilio Diniz, for 1.8 billion reals ($663 million). The Brazilian buyer has options to raise its stake to 16% in the next five years, and Carrefour said it may list the unit on the Brazilian stock exchange in the future. 

In Milan, Banca Carige was up 1.32% amid Italian press reports that it may have to raise more capital than expected after failing the recent stress test by the European Central Bank, the eurozone's new central banking supervisor. The lender has said it could raise up to 650 million euros to cover the 813.4 million euros gap identified by the ECB, but Italian media now suggest it may have to go as high as 700 million euros. 

But Banca Monte dei Paschi, which also failed the test, was little changed following a report in business daily Il Sole 24 Ore that it's cancelling the planned disposal of its Consum.it consumer credit platform, opting instead to securitize part of the unit's loan portfolio. 

Asian markets also posted gains. The Nikkei climbed 2.32% to 17,210 in Japan, while the Hang Seng added 1.09% to 22,832.21 in Hong Kong.

 

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