European Stocks Are Little Changed; Commodity Shares Rise
Saturday, 24 March 2012 | 00:00
European (SXXP) stocks closed little changed, paring earlier losses, as shares of mining companies rose with metal prices and a report showed sales of new houses in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in February.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) advanced 0.1 percent to 265.86 at 4:30 p.m. in London. The benchmark gauge slid 2.4 percent this week, the biggest drop this year. The measure has still gained 8.7 percent so far in 2012 as the European (SXXP) Central Bank disbursed more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) to the region’s lenders and U.S. economic data topped forecasts.
“We’ve seen some disappointing data this week, so the market is a bit on edge,” said John Plassard, director at Louis Capital Markets SA in Geneva. “The U.S. home sales report was below expectations, which has some investors questioning the strength of the U.S. economy’s recovery.”
National benchmark indexes rose in 13 of 18 western- European markets. France’s CAC 40 Index added 0.2 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index gained 0.4 percent and Germany’s DAX Index climbed 0.3 percent. The number of shares changing hands on the Stoxx 600 was 5.1 percent lower today than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
In the U.S., a report showed that purchases of new houses unexpectedly fell in February for a second month, a sign the recovery in the housing market may be uneven.
Sales dropped 1.6 percent to a 313,000 annual pace, the slowest since October, from a 318,000 rate in January that was weaker than previously reported, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median estimate of 78 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 325,000.
U.K. consumer confidence declined in February as rising joblessness and weak economic growth made Britons more pessimistic about the future, Nationwide Building Society said. An index of sentiment fell to 44 from 47 in January, when it jumped nine points, the customer-owned lender said. A gauge of consumers’ expectations for the economy fell 4 points to 60.
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