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21.03.2014 18:01

European stocks close

European stocks were little changed, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posting its biggest weekly gain in five weeks, as consumer confidence increased more than forecast, while derivatives contracts expired.

The Stoxx 600 gained 0.1 percent to 327.91 at the close of trading. The index has advanced 1.8 percent this week, paring its loss this year to 0.1 percent, as President Vladimir Putin said he wasn’t seeking to split up Ukraine after Crimea voted to join Russia.

Consumer confidence in the euro area improved this month more than projected, according to data from the European Commission. An advance reading showed an index of household confidence increased in March to minus 9.3 from minus 12.7 in February. The median economist estimate compiled by Bloomberg had predicted a reading of minus 12.3.

National benchmark indexes rose in 10 of the 18 western-European markets today. Germany’s DAX gained 0.5 percent, France’s CAC added 0.2 percent, and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 also rose 0.2 percent.

Commerzbank climbed 2.5 percent to 13.33 euros. Morgan Stanley raised Germany’s second-largest lender to overweight, similar to buy, from equal weight. Analysts Hubert Lam and Francesca Tondi said non-core assets are undervalued and the likelihood of another capital increase has decreased. Separately, Commerzbank said today that it has already attained its capital requirement target for 2014.

Havas declined 1.8 percent to 5.70 euros. The French advertising agency partly-owned by billionaire Vincent Bollore said net income rose to 128 million euros ($177 million). That missed the 133 million-euro average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.

Remy fell 3.9 percent to 59.07 euros. The company will find it harder to recover from a slump in Chinese sales because it lacks the global distribution channels of its rivals, according to UBS. Cognac sales may drop as much as 25 percent in the fourth quarter, UBS said.

Vivendi SA lost 1.4 percent to 19.67 euros. Altice SA, which is in talks to buy Vivendi’s SFR phone unit, has no plan to revise its bid even after Bouygues SA sweetened its rival offer yesterday, according to a person familiar with the matter. Altice can change its bid during the three-week exclusivity period ending April 4, the person said.

Market Focus

  • Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States
  • Canada: Retail Sales, m/m, November 0.2% (forecast 0.5%)
  • U.S.: Nonfarm Payrolls, January 227 (forecast 175)
  • Eurozone: Consumer Confidence, January -4.9
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