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08.11.2012 18:20

European stocks close:

European stocks were little changed, after yesterday sliding the most in two weeks, as a selloff in auto manufacturers overshadowed results from Swiss Re Ltd. and Hermes International (RMS) SCA that beat analysts’ estimates.

PSA Peugeot Citroen SA (UG) and Valeo SA both lost more than 4.5 percent as analysts downgraded their shares. Swiss Re gained 1.9 percent after saying smaller losses from natural disasters helped net income surge in the third quarter. Hermes advanced 2 percent as sales rose because of increased demand in Asia.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.1 percent to 270.8 at 4:30 p.m. in London, after earlier climbing as much as 0.6 percent.

National benchmark indexes fell in 15 of the 18 western- European (SXXP) markets.

FTSE 100 5,776.05 -15.58 -0.27% CAC 40 3,407.68 -1.91 -0.06% DAX 7,204.96 -27.87 -0.39%

Greece’s ASE slumped 3.8 percent even as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras obtained a parliamentary majority for a package of austerity measures needed to release further financial aid from the European Union.

Stocks briefly declined after euro-area finance ministers were said to delay a decision on whether to provide further financial aid to Greece.

The ECB left its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.75 percent. Draghi reiterated that the central bank will buy the debt of countries that ask it to intervene in their bond markets.

The Bank of England held its key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent.

Peugeot dropped 6 percent to 4.47 euros after Citigroup Inc. lowered its recommendation for Europe’s second-biggest carmaker to sell from neutral, citing the company’s struggles with cash.

Valeo declined 4.7 percent to 33.16 euros after UBS AG downgraded France’s second-largest car-parts maker to neutral from buy, saying consensus estimates for European auto suppliers remained too high and all companies will face earnings downgrades.

Pirelli & Cie. lost 2.8 percent to 8.50 euros after brokerages including Exane BNP Paribas said the tiremaker may lower its forecasts. Exane projected sales of 6.1 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in 2012, rather than the current guidance of 6.4 billion euros.

Hermes gained 2 percent to 223.60 euros after the French maker of Birkin bags and silk scarves said third-quarter sales advanced 24 percent from a year earlier to 848.6 million euros. The average analyst’s estimates had called for 803.8 million euros. Excluding currency swings, sales rose 16 percent.

Siemens AG (SIE) added 1.8 percent to 80.27 euros after Europe’s largest engineering company announced that it plans to cut costs by 5 billion euros as it prepares for lower profit in 2013.

BTG Plc (BTG) soared 7.6 percent to 352.4 pence after the drugmaker reported first-half adjusted earnings per share of 5.6 pence, compared with 3.9 pence a year earlier. It reiterated its 2013 revenue forecast.

Market Focus

  • The eurozone started the third quarter on a solid footing, according to PMI survey data
  • Earnings Season in U.S.: Major Reports of the Week
  • German private sector output growth slowed for the second month running in July
  • ECB's Mersch says as conditions normalise, it is unlikely that uncoventional policies will remain necessary
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