News of the resignation of Oskar Lafontaine, the German finance minister, did not break until after the stock market had closed.
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GERMAN STOCKS ended more than 1 per cent higher, spurred on by strong gains in the banking sector. Dresdner Bank surged almost 5 per cent and HypoVereinsbank 8.5 per cent on the back of positive sentiment generated by the BNP bid for rival French banks Paribas and SocGen. This helped the Xetra Dax index close up 55.32 points at 4,785.37.