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European stocks were little changed near a six-year high as Citigroup Inc. made a bullish case for investing in mining companies and as initial jobless claims in the U.S. fell to a six-week low.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.2 percent to 333.97 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The benchmark climbed yesterday to its highest level since January 2008 as the World Bank raised its forecast for global economic growth. The measure has added 1.7 percent in January, after rallying 17 percent in 2013.
National benchmarks fell in 13 of the 18 western European markets.
FTSE 100 6,815.42 -4.44 -0.07% CAC 40 4,319.27 -12.80 -0.30% DAX 9,717.71 -16.10 -0.17%
A U.S. Labor Department report showed that first-time jobless claims decreased by 2,000 to 326,000 in the week ended Jan. 11, from a revised 328,000 in the previous week. That was the lowest since the week ended Nov. 29.
Commodity producers, as a group, posted the best performance in the Stoxx 600 after Citigroup Inc. turned bullish on European miners for the first time in three years.
“Our move reflects better bottom-up fundamentals, particularly from the major miners,” analysts including Heath R. Jansen wrote in a note. “We would rather be too early than too late in making this call.”
Rio Tinto gained 2.6 percent to 3,339 pence. The world’s second-largest mining company cut cash costs by more than $2 billion and halved exploration spending to $948 million last year, beating the targets set by Chief Executive Officer Sam Walsh. Fourth-quarter iron-ore output climbed 7 percent from a year earlier, in line with estimates.
BHP Billiton Ltd. increased 3.9 percent to 1,860.5, pence for the biggest gain since October. Citigroup upgraded its rating on the company to buy from neutral. The brokerage said BHP is trading at a discount to some valuation measures, may deliver 35 percent cumulative growth by the end of the decade, could deliver cost savings and may continue to sell assets.
United Utilities (UU/) advanced 4.8 percent to 690.5 pence. Morgan Stanley upgraded the U.K.’s largest publicly traded water supplier to overweight, a rating similar to buy, from equal weight. The brokerage said the company trades at the lowest premium to its regulatory capital value compared with rivals. RCV is an accounting norm developed by the U.K. Water Services Regulation Authority for setting price limits.
Ladbrokes Plc (LAD) rose 1.6 percent to 175.8 pence. The U.K. operator of 2,100 betting outlets said that 2013 operating profit will be in the middle of analysts’ estimated range of 129.8 million pounds to 151 million pounds and consistent with the forecast the company gave in November.
Richemont (CFR) dropped 2 percent to 87 Swiss francs. The owner of the Cartier brand said revenue in the October-December period rose 2.8 percent to 2.94 billion euros. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey had expected sales of 3.05 billion euros.
Carrefour slid 4.1 percent to 27.15 euros. The retailer said total revenue fell 1.5 percent to 22.2 billion euros, in line with the average of four analysts’ estimates.
Royal Ahold NV lost 2.4 percent to 12.85 euros. The biggest Dutch retailer posted fourth-quarter revenue of 7.47 billion euros, missing the median projection of 7.57 billion euros.
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