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European stocks were little changed as investors weighed U.S. retail and home-sales (ETSLTOTL) data, as well as comments from people familiar with the debate saying the European Central Bank is considering a smaller-than-normal cut in the deposit rate if officials decide to take it negative.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.1 percent to 322.84 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The benchmark gauge yesterday fell from a five-year high.
National benchmark indexes retreated in 13 of the 18 western European markets.
FTSE 100 6,681.08 -16.93 -0.25% CAC 40 4,268.37 -3.92 -0.09% DAX 9,202.07 +8.78 +0.10%
It would be the first time the ECB has adjusted interest rates by less than a quarter of a percentage point. The concept, which has been discussed by Governing Council members, doesn’t yet have a consensus, the people said.
Retail sales in the U.S. rose more than forecast in October. The 0.4 percent increase was the most in three months and followed no change in September, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of economists called for a 0.1 percent October advance.
Separate data showed that purchases of previously-owned U.S. homes fell in October to the lowest level in four months. Sales dropped 3.2 percent from a month earlier to a 5.12 million annual rate, according to the National Association of Realtors in Washington. The median forecast of economists projected a 5.14 million pace.
The Fed will release minutes of its October meeting after European markets close today. The document will reveal more details on the decision to maintain its pace of asset purchases at $85 billion a month. Fed policy makers will probably trim the bond-buying to $70 billion at their March 18-19 meeting, according to the median estimate.
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said late yesterday the central bank will probably maintain its target interest rate long after ending its monthly bond purchases.
Metro gained 2.4 percent to 36.64 euros, posting the biggest two-day increase since November 2011. Barclays upgraded Germany’s biggest retailer to overweight, similar to a buy rating, from equal weight, citing the possible sale of a Russian operation, improving sales trends in key divisions and the possibility of reducing borrowing costs as expensive debt matures. Shares soared 7.9 percent yesterday after Metro said it is considering a partial initial public offering of its Russian Cash & Carry unit.
Societe Television Francaise 1 (TFI) jumped 4.8 percent to 13.96 euros after France beat Ukraine to advance to the next year’s soccer World Cup. TF1, which bought the broadcast rights to the competition, yesterday fell as much as 1.3 percent in intraday trading as Natixis wrote that the probability of the French national team qualifying for the tournament was “very low.”
Zodiac Aerospace (ZC) climbed 3.5 percent to 123.05 euros, the highest price since at least February 1993, after the world’s largest maker of airline seats posted full-year net income of 370.9 million euros ($499 million). That exceeded the 355.5 million-euro average of analysts.
Diageo Plc lost 1.1 percent to 2,007 pence after CEO Menezes told journalists yesterday he expects the “uncertain” global economy to continue to affect sales growth for the world’s biggest distiller.
Menezes said the company was committed to its profitability target despite slowing growth in some economies. Diageo said in August 2011 it would increase sales excluding acquisitions by an average of 6 percent a year and widen its operating-profit ">ThyssenKrupp AG declined 2.1 percent to 19 euros after Reuters cited bankers familiar with the matter as saying that the German steelmaker plans to boost capital by 10 percent. Spokesman Robin Zimmer said in e-mailed comments the company does not rule out a capital increase.
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