Bloomberg News

European Stocks Are Little Changed; Transocean Advances

May 03, 2012

European stocks were little changed as company earnings were offset by comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi who said policy makers didn’t discuss lowering interest rates this week.

Porsche SE climbed 2.9 percent as the carmaker reported an 18 percent jump in first-quarter profit. Transocean Ltd. gained 2.5 percent as earnings topped analyst estimates. Banks dropped.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.1 percent to 257.53 at the close in London, after earlier advancing as much as 1 percent and falling as much as 0.4 percent. The volume of shares changing hands on the Stoxx 600 was 1.2 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“The ECB was the main focus for many today,” said Ioan Smith, a strategist at Knight Capital Europe Ltd. in London. “The hope would have been for some sort of quick fix, but he said nothing that suggested they would change their view. The ECB rate path appears to be firmly on hold for the forseeable future.”

The central bank kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1 percent today as predicted by every economist in a Bloomberg News survey. Stocks erased gains after Draghi, speaking at a press conference in Barcelona, said the central bankers did not talk about cutting rates today.

‘Downside Risks’ Prevail

While the ECB still expects a gradual economic recovery this year, “downside risks” prevail and the outlook has become “more uncertain,” Draghi said.

National benchmark indexes slid in 10 of the 18 western- European (SXXP) markets today. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent and Germany’s DAX slid 0.2 percent.

Gains were also limited today after the U.S. Institute for Supply Management’s index of non-manufacturing industries cooled to 53.5 from 56 in March. That fell short of the median economist projection of 74. Readings greater than 50 signal expansion.

A separate release showed fewer Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week. Tomorrow’s Labor Department report tomorrow may show employers added 160,000 new jobs in April, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

Porsche climbing 2.9 percent to 46.99 euros after the company, jointly owned by Volkswagen AG (VOW) and the Porsche SE holding company, said first-quarter profit jumped 18 percent as deliveries of the revamped 911 and Panamera surged. The preferred shares of Volkswagen added 1.8 percent to 145 euros.

Transocean Shares Gain

Transocean gained 2.5 percent to 46.85 Swiss francs after the world’s largest offshore-rig contractor reported first- quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as maintenance costs rose less than some analysts had projected.

UniCredit SpA led banks lower, falling 4.7 percent to 2.70 euros. Societe Generale SA (GLE), which today reported earnings that topped analyst estimates, lost 4.2 percent to 17.27 euros and Commerzbank AG slid 3.6 percent to 1.54 euros.

Elsewhere, Smith & Nephew Plc (SN/) jumped 4 percent to 629.5 pence. Europe’s biggest maker of artificial hips and knees said first-quarter sales for its wound business added 5 percent to $240 million and revenue from surgical devices rose 3 percent.

Hannover Re added 3.8 percent to 46.94 euros, snapping four days of losses. The world’s fourth-biggest reinsurer, said first-quarter profit rose almost fivefold from a year earlier.

TGS Nopec Geophysical ASA climbed 6.9 percent to 175 kroner, the highest price since its initial public offering in 1997. The Norwegian surveyor of oilfields beat analysts’ projections with its first-quarter earnings.

Delhaize, HeidelbergCement Fall

Delhaize Group SA (DELB) slumped 10 percent to 32.30 euros, its lowest price since July 2003. The retailer reported first- quarter earnings that missed analyst estimates as a decline in same-store sales accelerated.

HeidelbergCement AG (HEI) fell 3.4 percent to 41.11 euros. The world’s third-largest maker of cement reported first-quarter operating profit that missed analyst estimates as higher energy costs coincided with colder-than-normal temperatures in Germany.

Of the 171 Stoxx 600 companies that have reported results since April 10, 95 have posted quarterly earnings that beat projections, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at astoukas@bloomberg.net; Sarah Jones in London at sjones35@bloomberg.net

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


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