By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch
LONDON (MarketWatch) — European stock markets climbed on Monday, with banks and resource firms in the lead, after growth data from China met analysts’ expectations and fueled investor optimism.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index XX:SXXP +0.37% gained 0.2% to 296.80, after closing out Friday with a 2.7% weekly gain.
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Shares of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken AB SE:SEBA +2.45% added 2.5% after the bank reported a stronger-than-expected rise in second-quarter profit.
French supermarket company Carrefour SA FR:CA +2.41% picked up 2% after analysts at Barclays lifted the firm to overweight from equal weight.
The broader European stock markets mirrored gains in Asia, where Chinese stocks had a strong trading day after the release of gross-domestic-product data on China. The National Bureau of Statistics said the economy grew 7.5% in the second quarter, weaker than the 7.7% expansion recorded in the first quarter, but matching expectations in separate surveys of economists by Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters.
The report came after China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei on Friday suggested the country’s economy would fall short of its targets and that the growth rate could average 7% this year, according to Xinhua news agency. The agency, however, over the weekend corrected the 7%-growth comments.
“The Chinese finance minister on Friday tried to guide the market expectations lower by saying that growth was going to be a little slower this year, so markets were relieved when the data came out today,” said Richard Perry, chief market strategist at Central Markets in London.
“But if we look at the fact that Chinese growth is still falling it’s not a massive positive reading. I think markets are taking it a little too positive, especially at the open,” he added.
China’s economy grew in line with expectations in the second quarter data show on Monday.
Resource firms, which tend to rise on solid growth expectations from China, advanced in Europe after the data.
Heavyweight miner Rio Tinto PLC UK:RIO +1.02% AU:RIO +0.05% RIO -2.72% climbed 1% in London, and energy group BG Group PLC UK:BG +0.51% added 0.4%.
The FTSE 100 index UK:UKX +0.49% traded 0.4% higher at 6,570.15, on track to close at a six-week high.
In France, the CAC 40 index FR:PX1 +0.54% rose 0.4% to 3,870.71, shaking off a sovereign ratings downgrade from late Friday. Fitch Ratings downgraded the country’s credit rating to AA+ from AAA, citing the high level of government indebtedness of the euro-zone nation.
Banks posted some of the biggest gains in Paris, with shares of Société Générale SA FR:GLE +1.11% up 1.2% and BNP Paribas SA FR:BNP +0.66% 0.9% higher.
Germany’s DAX 30 index DX:DAX +0.28% added 0.2% to 8,227.41
Sara Sjolin is a MarketWatch reporter based in London. Follow her on Twitter @sarasjolin.