Most European Stocks Gain

Most European stocks rose, led by commodity producers and automakers, as Rio Tinto Group said it will cut debt and investors speculated lawmakers will approve a $15 billion government bailout of the U.S. automobile industry.

Rio Tinto jumped 17 percent after the world’s third-biggest mining company said it will slash spending and eliminate 14,000 jobs as and base metals climbed. Renault SA rose 1.9 percent as Congress prepares to vote on the plan Democrats reached with the Bush administration to rescue General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index bounced between gains and losses after lower earnings forecasts from Electronic Arts Inc. and Praxair Inc. weighed on media and chemical companies.

More than one stock rose for each one that fell in the Stoxx 600. The benchmark index slipped 0.1 percent to 205.19 at 12:38 p.m. in London, after earlier climbing as much as 0.5 percent.

Asian stocks advanced for a fourth day and U.S. index futures gained on speculation lawmakers will approve a $15 billion bailout of American auto companies, the latest government effort to bolster the global economy.

Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. surged more than 9 percent as lawmakers reached a tentative agreement to rescue General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC that would protect jobs and parts suppliers. BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, added 6.7 percent as oil and copper climbed. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. jumped 10 percent in Tokyo after shipping costs advanced. An increase in Australian consumer confidence drove Westfield Group, the shopping mall operator, 3.5 percent higher.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 3.3 percent to 86.43 as of 7:02 p.m. in Tokyo. The measure has gained 15 percent since Nov. 20, when it reached a five-year low, as governments from Australia to the U.S. announced measures to combat the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 1.3 percent.

MSCI’s Asian index has lost 45 percent this year as Japan, the U.S. and Europe entered simultaneous recessions. Companies on the index are valued at an average 12.4 times estimated profit, about a quarter less than the level at the start of 2008.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 3.2 percent to 8,660.24. Tokyu Land Corp. rallied after the Nikkei newspaper said the government may provide credit to struggling developers. All other benchmark indexes increased apart from New Zealand.,
12/10/2008 5:33:22 AM