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European stocks were little changed as German investor confidence surged, offsetting an unexpected decline in U.S. sales of existing homes.
German investor confidence increased to the highest in 2 1/2 years in January. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said its index of investor and analyst expectations, which aims to predict economic developments six months in advance, climbed to 31.5 from 6.9 in December. That’s the highest since May 2010. Economists forecast a gain to 12.
Sales of U.S. existing homes unexpectedly dropped in December, restrained by the lowest supply of properties in more than a decade.
Purchases fell 1 percent to a 4.94 million annual rate last month, the National Association of Realtors said in a report in Washington. That’s the second-highest reading since November 2009. The median forecast of 79 economists called for sales to increase to a 5.1 million rate.
In Asia, the Bank of Japan said it will shift to Federal Reserve-style open-ended asset purchases in its strongest commitment yet to ending two decades of deflation.
National benchmark indexes fell in 11 of the 18 western European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 was little changed, while France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.6 percent. Germany’s DAX lost 0.7 percent.
Vivendi SA, Europe’s biggest media and telecommunications company, lost 4 percent to 16.08 euros. Stephane Roussel, chief executive officer of Vivendi’s SFR phone business, said the unit expects a tough market for as long as 18 months, according to an interview published in Le Parisien.
Rightmove Plc gained 2.8 percent to 1,599 pence as UBS AG upgraded the British property-listings website owner to buy from neutral, saying that its competitive strengths remain intact.
Opap SA rallied 5.1 percent to 6.95 euros after Greek officials met to coordinate state asset-disposal plans, which include the sale of a 33 percent stake in Greece’s biggest gambling company.
Drillisch AG jumped 3.7 percent to 12.30 euros, its highest price in more than 12 years. The German telephone-services provider said it will increase its 2012 dividend to 1 euro a share from 70 cents a year earlier.
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