Bloomberg News

German Stocks Pare Earlier Losses; Commerzbank, Fresenius Fall

February 17, 2012

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- German stocks pared earlier losses as U.S. jobless-benefit claims unexpectedly declined to a four- year low, and European governments were said to consider cutting interest rates on emergency loans to Greece.

Commerzbank AG lost 1.7 percent. Daimler AG fell 0.6 percent, as registrations of new cars in Europe fell in January. Fresenius Medical Care AG dropped 3.2 percent after Citigroup cut its recommendation on the stock. K+S AG, the fertilizer producer, fell 2 percent, after data showed that January potash inventories were 32 percent above the five-year average.

Germany’s benchmark DAX Index retreated 0.1 percent to 6.751.96 at the close in Frankfurt, after earlier falling as much as 1 percent. The broader HDAX slipped 0.2 percent.

Claims for jobless benefits in the U.S. fell unexpectedly last week to the lowest level in four years, Labor Department figures showed today. First-time applications decreased in the week ended Feb. 11 to 348,000, less than the median estimate of 365,000 in a Bloomberg News survey.

Euro-area governments are considering cutting interest rates on emergency loans to Greece and using contributions from the European Central Bank to plug a new financing gap in the second bailout program for Athens, two people familiar with the discussions said.

Euro-area creditor countries struggled to reach an agreement over a rescue of Greece last night, seeking more control over how future aid is spent as the country faces the threat of default over a bond payment due on Mar. 20. Policy makers will discuss a second bailout on Feb. 20, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, said.

Moody’s Review

Moody’s Investors Service is reviewing 17 banks and securities firms with global capital markets operations. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. are among companies that may be downgraded by two levels, the ratings operator said in a statement, adding that the “guidance is indicative only.”

UBS AG, Credit Suisse Group AG and Morgan Stanley’s credit ratings may be cut by as many as three levels. Moody’s reduced some European insurers’ ratings based on risks stemming from the region’s sovereign debt crisis.

Commerzbank fell 1.7 percent to 2.03 euros. Fresenius declined 3.2 percent to 55.21 euros after Citigroup cut the kidney dialysis service provider to “neutral” from “buy.”

Car Registrations

Daimler declined 0.6 percent to 46.33 euros, as registrations of new cars in Europe in January fell 6.6 percent to 1 million vehicles, marking the fourth consecutive monthly decline, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said today in a statement. Registrations in Germany, Europe’s largest auto market, which accounts for about one in five cars sold in the region, slipped 0.4 percent to 210,195 autos.

K+S fell 2 percent to 39.40 euros, after data on Potash Corp’s website from the Fertilizer Institute showed that January inventories were 32 percent above the five-year average.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the biggest user of Frankfurt Airport, declined 0.7 percent to 10.58 euros, after Fraport AG said a strike of controllers today may delay one-third of all flights. The airport operator said it aims to guarantee 50 percent of all flights during the strike today and tomorrow.

--Editors: Alan Soughley, Will Hadfield

{CBK GR <Equity>} {DBK GR <Equity>} {LHA GR <Equity>}

To contact the reporter on this story: Konstantin Riffler in Frankfurt at kriffler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net


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