Investor Alert

Jan. 14, 2013, 3:27 a.m. EST

Europe stocks edge higher with banks in the lead

MADRID (MarketWatch) -- European stock markets kicked off Monday's trading with slight gains, led by French banking stocks after broker upgrades. Analysts noted debt-buying plans by the Japanese government and a speech by Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, who reportedly said the U.S. economy will grow by 2.5% this year and 3.5% next, as positives for sentiment this morning. The Stoxx Europe 600 index (STOXX:XX:SXXP) was slightly positive at 287.08, while the French CAC 40 index (PAR:FR:PX1) rose 0.2% to 2,712.53. Shares of Societe Generale SA (PAR:FR:GLE) rose 2.5% and Credit Agricole SA (PAR:FR:ACA) gained 2% after those banks were upgraded to outperform by Credit Suisse. The German DAX 30 index (XEX:DX:DAX) rose 0.1% to 7,725.83 and the FTSE 100 index (FTSE:UK:UKX) was flat at 6,122.80. Shares of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA (PAR:FR:SGO) rose 3% after Ardagh Glass Ltd. offered $1.69 billion for its North American Verallia unit, which makes glass bottles and jars.

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French banks up as the rest of Europe struggles

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