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11.03.2014 18:00

European stock close

European stocks were little changed, after swinging between gains and losses, as investors weighed economic data and the growing conflict in Ukraine for their impact on company earnings.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added less than 0.1 percent. The equity benchmark has dropped 2.1 percent from a six-year high on Feb. 25 as tensions escalated between Russia and the U.S. over the future of Ukraine.

Benchmark indexes rose in 12 of the 18 markets in western Europe.

FTSE 100 6,678.48 -10.97 -0.16% CAC 40 4,349.55 -21.29 -0.49% DAX 9,297.1 +31.60 +0.34%

Russia showed no signs of yielding in the Crimean standoff as Ukraine bolstered its defenses before its prime minister meets U.S. President Barack Obama tomorrow.

In addition to testing its military’s combat readiness, Ukraine may mobilize 20,000 people to protect borders, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said. Russia has vowed to defend the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea after an uprising unseated Ukraine’s Moscow-backed leader. It rejects the legitimacy of the new cabinet in Kiev.

African Barrick Gold tumbled 20 percent to 247.2 pence, its biggest retreat since Jan. 8, 2013. Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp., which held 74 percent of African Barrick, sold 41 million shares for 275 pence each.

Galenica dropped 4.1 percent to 891.5 Swiss francs. The drug retailer said it expects 2014 profit to be at least at the same level as last year. Kepler Cheuvreux SA said the forecast was below its estimate for earnings growth of 5 percent.

Hannover Re declined 1.1 percent to 60.04 euros. The reinsurer said earnings before interest and taxes dropped to 243.3 million euros ($337 million) in the final three months of 2013 because of weakness in life and health reinsurance. Bankhaus Lampe KG said Hannover Re’s operating performance missed analysts’ estimates.

Geberit AG gained 3.2 percent to 287.20 francs. The maker of bathroom fittings and plumbing products said Christian Buhl will take over as CEO from Albert M. Baehny at the beginning of 2015. The company also said net income increased to 435.8 million francs in 2013, or 19 percent of sales. Profitability on that measure was the highest since the company first sold shares to the public in 1999, according to a statement.

UniCredit SpA jumped 6.4 percent to 6.43 euros, the biggest gain since September 2012. The bank, which posted results today, said it will cut jobs and sell assets as part of a five-year plan to strengthen its finances. The move will comfort investors concerned about asset quality, Mediobanca S.p.A. said after the announcement.

Close Brothers Group Plc (CBG) rose 2.4 percent to 1,474 pence. The British financial-services company founded in 1878 increased its interim dividend to 16.5 pence, more that the 16 pence forecast.

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