Most Stocks in Europe, Asia Advance

Most stocks in Europe and Asia rose, sending the MSCI World Index to its longest stretch of gains since 2007, as investors speculated central banks will increase efforts to buoy the economy., Bloomberg 3/18/2009 5:46:28 AM

UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, climbed for a seventh day as Federal Reserve officials debated how to boost growth. UniCredit SpA gained 12 percent as Italy’s biggest bank reported profit that beat analysts’ estimates and said it may seek government aid. Mizuho Financial Group Inc., the Asian firm hardest hit by the credit crisis, advanced 3 percent as the Bank of Japan pledged to increase debt purchases to spur lending.

The MSCI World increased for a seventh day, adding 0.3 percent at 11:48 a.m. in London. The gauge of 23 developed nations has posted its longest streak of gains since June 2007 as Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. said they made money during the first two months of 2009, spurring optimism the worst of the financial crisis is over.

European stocks pared gains and U.S. futures extended their decline after data showed that U.K. unemployment rose at the fastest pace since at least 1971 in February.

More than three stocks rose for every two that fell in Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index, which added 0.1 percent. Gains were limited as Volkswagen AG retreated.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.8 percent as HSBC Holdings Plc said it remains well capitalized” and profitable.