EUROPE MARKETS: European Stocks End Higher As Economic Activity Hovers At 6-year High

By Carla Mozee and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Nokia settles disputes with Apple

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European stocks closed in the green on Tuesday, with French shares among the biggest advancers as eurozone economic activity remained at a six-year high.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.2% to finish at 392.02, rebounding after Monday's 0.1% dip (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-edge-higher-as-us-political-commotion-subsides-2017-05-22).

But travel-related shares edged lower following a suspected terror attack by a suicide bomber in Manchester, England, which killed 22 people, including children, and injured 59 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/death-toll-rises-to-22-in-suspected-suicide-bombing-in-manchester-2017-05-23) as people left an Ariana Grande concert on Monday night.

Within the Stoxx 600, shares of amusement parks operator Merlin Entertainments PLC (MERL.LN) fell 1.5% and InterContinental Hotels Group PLC (IHG) slipped 0.2%. But British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG.LN) closed up 0.5% and French hotel chain operator Accor SA (AC.FR) tacked on 0.4%.

Political campaigning ahead of the U.K.'s general election on June 8 was suspended Tuesday. The pound was recently down slightly to $1.2982, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 finished 0.2% lower at 7,485.29 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cautious-start-to-trade-in-uk-stocks-after-suspected-terror-attack-in-manchester-2017-05-23).

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Eurozone growth: In Paris, the CAC 40 rose 0.5% to end at 5,348.16, gaining momentum after IHS Markit said a preliminary reading of French services activity in May rose to 58.0, above the FactSet consensus of 56.8. That helped the composite index reach a 72-month high, although manufacturing output was at a two-month low. A reading of 50 or greater indicates economic expansion.

The figures indicated an 11th straight month of private sector growth in Europe's third-largest economy, said IHS Markit.

Overall, the IHS Markit eurozone PMI held a six-year high in May, at 56.8.

In Germany, the flash manufacturing PMI hit a 73-month high at 59.4, above an estimate of 58.0, even as services activity was at a three-month low. Separately, the closely watched Ifo business climate survey climbed to 114.6, an all-time high.

"Today's strong German data add to the evidence that, not only the German economy, but the entire eurozone economy could become the positive growth surprise of 2017," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING, in a note.

"This sentiment is also spreading across financial markets, with many market participants now realizing that the eurozone economy had been written off too early," he said. However, "be aware of the sugar rush. Despite the cyclical upswing, structural problems in the eurozone economy have not disappeared."

Germany's DAX 30 index --which is made up of companies that are heavily dependent on exports--was up 0.3% to close at 12,659.15, and it has recently hit records

The euro traded at $1.1201, down from $1.1238 late Monday in New York after earlier gains faded.

Stock movers: Nokia Corp. (NOK) (NOK) climbed 6.4% after the Finnish tech company and Apple Inc. (AAPL) settled a long-running intellectual-property dispute and agreed to a multiyear patent license (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/nokia-apple-end-disputes-enter-patent-license-2017-05-23). Financial details weren't disclosed, but Nokia will receive an upfront cash payment from Apple along with additional revenue during the term of the agreement.

Severn Trent PLC shares (SVT.LN) rose 1.8% after the British water company upgraded its dividend policy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/severn-trent-earnings-up-upgrades-dividend-policy-2017-05-23) and posted a rise in fiscal 2017 earnings.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 23, 2017 12:34 ET (16:34 GMT)