February 21, 2014 9:23 am

Six-day rally for stocks in Europe

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Europe’s main equities indices rose in early trade on Friday, taking the region’s rally into its sixth-straight day, tracking sustained gains in Asia and the US.

But there were signs that investors may be looking for protection for their recent gains, with defensive stocks prominent on the leaderboard.

Overall, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 0.4 per cent at 1,344.42.

Valeo, the French auto parts maker, climbed 9.7 per cent to €96.50 after its net profit surged 40 per cent in the second half of 2013, amid stronger demand from a recovering European car market.

Vodafone was the best single gainer on the international index, up 2.9 per cent at 236.5p. British Land, the real estate investment trust, gained 1.1 per cent to 703.8p and drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline added 1.1 per cent to £17.03.

Royal Bank of Scotland was up 1.4 per cent at 360.8p at pixel time, as investors warmed to the latest restructuring plans for the bank.

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The UK lender, which is still 81 per cent owned by the government, was next week expected to announce its withdrawal from many of its riskier investment banking activities, alongside a plan to offload much of its international business.

The FTSE 100 in London was up 0.4 per cent to 6,842.53.

Shares in Axa, the French insurer, were down 1 per cent at €19.35 after its net income for 2013 missed expectations, rising to €4.48bn from $4.06bn in 2012, but short of the $4.74bn forecast in a Bloomberg poll.

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