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European stocks were little changed as a rally in ASML Holding NV offset a decline in ABB Ltd. U.S. stock futures were also little changed, while Asian shares rose.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index retreated 0.1 percent to 335.37 at 11:23 a.m. in London. The benchmark gauge has gained 2.2 percent so far this year as mining companies rallied and the World Bank raised its forecast for global growth.
U.K. unemployment, as measured by International Labour Organization methods, fell to 7.1 percent in the three months through November from 7.4 percent in the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said. The median forecast of economists was for a 7.3 percent drop.
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee “saw no immediate need to raise bank rate even if the 7 percent unemployment threshold were to be reached in the near future,” minutes from its Jan. 8-9 meeting showed today. Policy makers said cost pressures remain “subdued” and headwinds to growth “would persist for some time.”
ASML rallied 6.8 percent to 67.40 euros after saying it will increase its 2013 dividend by 15 percent. Europe’s largest semiconductor-equipment supplier will pay 61 euro cents a share, up from 53 euro cents a year earlier.
Rautaruukki rallied 29 percent to 8.87 euros after SSAB offered to buy the Finnish steelmaker in a stock swap worth 10.1 billion kronor ($1.56 billion). SSAB surged 12 percent to 54.10 kronor. For each Rautaruukki share, shareholders will get 0.4752 newly issued SSAB class A shares and 1.2131 new class B shares. The offer represents a premium for Rautaruukki shareholders of 20 percent, based on the closing prices of the company’s and SSAB’s shares on Jan. 21.
Sage Group Plc climbed 4.7 percent to 432.3 pence after the software-publishing company said it expects to meet its target of 6 percent growth in so-called organic revenue in 2015. “Our performance in the first quarter is in line with our expectations, with good growth maintained across all regions,” Chief Executive Officer Guy Berruyer said in a statement.
ABB dropped 4.4 percent to 23.13 Swiss francs after saying it will book $260 million in charges from “operational issues” at its Power Systems division and delays to offshore wind projects. “This means we will not be able to deliver our profitability target for the division in the quarter,” Chief Executive Officer Ulrich Spiesshofer said in a statement.
FTSE 100 6,827.2 -7.06 -0.10%
CAC 40 4,313.3 -10.57 -0.24%
DAX 9,699.63 -30.49 -0.31%
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