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European stocks, euro rise with focus on banks

Brokers sit in front of screens at the Frankfurt stock exchange in May 2012. European stocks and the euro rose on Tuesday on prospects that central banks would act to boost economies, while Barclays shares jumped after its chief executive resigned amid a rate rigging scandal.

European stocks and the euro rose on Tuesday on prospects that central banks would act to boost economies, while Barclays shares jumped after its chief executive resigned amid a rate rigging scandal.

European markets were also helped higher by a cautiously optimistic report on Germany's economy from the International Monetary Fund, and news that Ireland would return to the bond markets on Thursday for the first time since its bailout.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index added 0.83 percent to 5,687.73 points and Paris' CAC 40 gained 0.96 percent to 3,271.20 points.

Data showing that car sales in Germany are resisting the eurozone crisis drove Frankfurt's DAX 30 index up 1.26 percent to 6,578.21 points.

Madrid rose 1.34 percent.

In foreign exchange deals, the euro rose to $1.2620 from $1.2582 late on Monday in New York.

"European markets started the session on the front foot with the banking sector very much in focus following the surprise overnight resignation by Barclay's CEO Bob Diamond," said Brenda Kelly, senior markets strategist at CMC Markets UK.

The markets were also betting on a boost from the European Central Bank, which holds its monthly meeting on Thursday, when the Bank of England is also widely expected to unveil its own fresh stimulus measures to revive recession-hit Britain.

"Investors pinning their hopes on a rate cut from the ECB this week will likely get their wish following the release of the industrial PPI which fell back sharply by 0.5 percent adding to the woes seen by yesterday's eurozone PMI data release," added Kelly.

Official data on Monday showed unemployment across the 17-nation eurozone at a euro-era high level of 11.1 percent while manufacturing purchasing managers indices continued to show activity contracting, though some PMIs exceeded expectations.

World stock markets and the euro leapt last week after European leaders agreed to use emergency funds to recapitalise ailing banks directly.

They also agreed to cobble together $150 billion to boost growth.

Spain and Italy continued to benefit from relaxing tensions on the bond markets, with the rate of return to investors in 10-year Spanish bonds falling to 6.210 percent from 6.338 percent at Monday's close. Italy's 10-year bond yield fell to 5.615 percent from 5.722 percent.

On Tuesday meanwhile, all eyes were on British bank Barclays, whose share price rose 1.75 percent to close at 171.35 pence after chief executive Bob Diamond resigned, caving in to political pressure over a rate rigging scandal which may trigger criminal charges.

"Barclay's shares were initially sold off on the news that the scandal had taken another of the bank's largest scalps with questions on exactly how far and where this would extend," said Andrew Taylor, market strategist at GFT trading group.

Diamond, high profile and highly paid, had faced growing calls to go but it was thought he might save his job and ride out the storm thanks to the resignation of Barclays' chairman Marcus Agius on Monday.

Barclays said that chief operating officer Jerry del Missier would also step down.

The scandal, which might implicate other big international banks, concerns manipulation of the Libor and Euribor interest rates.

These benchmark rates play a key role in global markets, affecting what banks, businesses and individuals pay to borrow money. Libor is a flagship London instrument used throughout the world. Euribor is the eurozone equivalent.

Meanwhile Ireland announced it would return to the bond markets for the first time since September 2010 with a 500 million euro auction of three-month treasury bills.

Ireland was forced to ask the IMF and EU for an 85 billion euro bailout in November 2010 when it could not longer tap bond markets at affordable rates after pledging to bail out its banks.

In the United States, stocks moved higher in a shortened session ahead of the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.55 percent to 12,941.96 points approaching midday.

The S&P 500-stock index climbed 0.57 percent to 1,373.33 points, while the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 0.75 percent to 2,973.40 points.