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European stocks closed little changed after data on U.S. house prices and consumer confidence gave conflicting signals about the strength of the world’s largest economy. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 U.S. cities dropped 3.4 percent from October 2010 after decreasing 3.5 percent in the year ended September, the New York-based group said today. The median forecast of 27 economists in a Bloomberg survey was for a 3.2 percent decrease.
Confidence among U.S. consumers rose as an improving job market helped regain all the ground lost following the mid-year government budget battle and credit-rating downgrade. The Conference Board’s index increased to 64.5 this month, exceeding all estimates in a Bloomberg News survey, from a revised 55.2 reading in November, figures from the New York-based private research group showed. The measure averaged 53.7 during the recession that ended in June 2009
The volume of share trading across Europe was reduced today as U.K. and Irish markets remained closed for a second day following the Christmas holiday.
National benchmark indexes gained in 10 of the 16 western European markets trading today. France’s CAC 40 Index added 0.2 percent and Germany’s DAX advanced 0.4 percent. The Swiss Market Index fell 0.1 percent.
Banco Comercial Portugues rallied 6 percent to 12 euro cents and Banco Espirito Santo surged 10 percent to 1.29 euros. Portugal may recapitalize its banks without becoming a shareholder, Jornal de Negocios reported, without saying where it got the information.
Wacker Chemie AG and Symrise AG led chemical makers higher. The German companies added 1.2 percent to 61.56 euros and 2.3 percent to 20.26 euros, respectively.
UniCredit and Mediobanca lost 4.7 percent to 6.58 euros and 4.5 percent to 4.54 euros, respectively, in Milan trading. Intesa Sanpaolo SpA tumbled 3 percent to 1.27 euros.
Italy plans to sell almost 450 billion euros of debt next year to pay for maturing bonds and bills and cover the government’s budget deficit, Il Sole 24-Ore said, citing an interview with Maria Cannata, director of public debt.
Sky Deutschland AG declined 1.9 percent to 1.39 euros. The company won’t show Paramount Pictures Corp.’s movies in 2012, and the change will damp enthusiasm for its movie channel, according to Financial Times Deutschland. Paramount’s films include “Mission Impossible,” “TinTin” and “Titanic.”
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