European stocks climb after Obama win, before Greek vote

European stock markets and the euro climbed on Wednesday as traders reacted to US President Barack Obama's convincing re-election and looked ahead to a key Greek vote on austerity.

In early deals, London's FTSE 100 index of top companies edged up 0.10 percent to 5,889.98 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 added 0.43 percent to 7,409.61 points and in Paris the CAC 40 grew by 0.62 percent to 3,500.18.

"Giving markets an initial push to the upside is rather typical relief often seen after a long drawn-out election campaign like this one, that there is finally certainty who will be at helm of the biggest economy in the world for the next four years," said ETX Capital trader Markus Huber.

Democrat Obama swept to victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the United States on Tuesday, despite a dragging economy and the stifling unemployment that haunted his first term.

"The election results have in effect returned the status quo to US politics as was widely expected heading into the election," said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in London.

"The knee-jerk US dollar sell-off mainly reflects investor concerns that maintaining the status quo increases the likelihood of the Feds current loose monetary policy stance remaining in place in the years ahead."

In foreign exchange activity, the euro rose to $1.2847 from $1.2814 late in New York on Tuesday.

Hardman said the market's attention would now turn to negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans on the US fiscal cliff -- a mandated sharp cut in government spending and the end to a package of tax breaks expected to suck half a trillion dollars out of the economy next year.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Monday urged the United States to "address quickly" the budget mess facing the government, no matter who won the election.

-- All eyes also on Greece --

"While events in the US are bound to dominate trading today, events in Europe are also likely to be keenly watched with particular attention once again focused on Athens," said Michael Hewson, senior analyst at trading group CMC Markets.

Greek lawmakers were to vote Wednesday on austerity measures needed to unlock international aid and stave off bankruptcy despite strikes and public anger against billions more euros in tax hikes and pension cuts.

A general strike was expected to paralyse Athens for a second straight day and Greeks are due to gather in front of parliament to voice their opposition to making further sacrifices as the country heads for its sixth year in recession.

Lawmakers were due to wrap up their debate and hold a late-night vote on the package of 18.5 billion euros ($23.6 billion) in new spending cuts and other reforms by 2016.

Implementing the austerity plan is a condition for Greece to receive a 31.5-billion-euro tranche of bailout funds from its troika of international creditors -- the European Union, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

-- European companies post mixed earnings --

Munich Re shares won 2.63 percent to 131.1 euros in Frankfurt deals after the world's biggest reinsurer said it was raising its full-year profit forecast, despite the expected claims losses from superstorm Sandy that battered the United States last week.

"The result for the first three quarters is more than pleasing. Despite Hurricane Sandy, we are very optimistic of realising a profit in the region of 3.0 billion euros for 2012," said chief financial officer Joerg Schneider.

At the beginning of the year, Munich Re had envisaged a full-year profit of around 2.5 billion euros.

French bank BNP Paribas jumped 4.06 percent to 40.7 euros after the company more than doubled its net profit in the third quarter.

In London, Burberry gained 0.72 percent to 1,261 pence as the British luxury clothing and accessories group said its net profits slumped 27.5 percent in the group's first half to £85 million ($136 million, 106 million euros).

The group was hit by a one-off charge of £73.8 million related to the termination of a fragrance and beauty licence deal. Burberry had meanwhile in September warned that its second-quarter earnings had been impacted amid economic slowdown in key market China.

Pearson climbed 1.29 percent to 1,256 pence, a day after the publisher denied it was planning to sell the Financial Times newspaper following contrary reports.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, shares in ING gained 0.78 percent to 6.93 euros after the Dutch bank said it would cut 2,350 jobs in the coming years as it announced a sharp drop in net profits for the third quarter.

Asian stock markets closed mixed on Wednesday.

burs-bcp/jj

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