European stocks were little changed, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index falling for the first week in a month, as Cypriot lawmakers sought to unlock a 10- billion-euro ($13 billion) bailout fund.
Marine Harvest (MHG) ASA climbed the most in nearly five months as a tightening fish supply and rising prices boost the company’s earnings outlook. MAN SE slid the most in five months as Volkswagen AG plans to offer shareholders 80.89 euros per share to get full control of the truckmaker. Mulberry Group Plc, a British luxury-handbag maker, plunged the most since October after saying full-year sales and profit will miss estimates.
The Stoxx 600 (SXXP) slipped 0.2 percent to 294.04 at the close of trading, erasing earlier gains of as much as 0.3 percent. The benchmark index lost 1.1 percent this week, snapping four straight weeks of gains. The number of shares changing hands in companies on the Stoxx 600 was 0.9 percent higher than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“We’re waiting to see what will happen with Cyprus,” said Arnaud Scarpaci, a fund manager at Montaigne Capital in Paris, which oversees $260 million. “We think a solution will be found.”
Cypriot lawmakers today debate legislation to unlock bailout funds. The ECB has said it will cut emergency funds for the Mediterranean island’s lenders after March 25 unless it agrees on a bailout with international creditors.
Euro-area finance ministers expect a proposal from Cyprus “as rapidly as possible” to raise the 5.8 billion euros needed to trigger the emergency loans, they said in a statement late yesterday.
Cyprus didn’t get the financial support it sought from Russia, although the two countries will continue talking, Cyprus Finance Minister Michael Sarris said.
The race for a compromise comes after a week of tumult marked by Cypriot lawmakers’ rejection of a tax on bank deposits. That was demanded by the other 16 euro countries and the International Monetary Fund as a condition for the 10 billion-euro rescue.
In Germany, business confidence unexpectedly fell in March from a 10-month high. The Ifo institute in Munich said its business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, fell to 106.7 this month from 107.4 in February. That’s the first drop in five months. Economists predicted a gain to 107.8, according to the median of forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey.
National benchmark indexes declined in 11 of the 18 western European markets. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX slipped 0.3 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE increased 0.1 percent.
Marine Harvest jumped 3 percent to 5.41 kroner. Nordea Securities raised its recommendation on the world’s largest publicly-traded salmon farmer to strong buy from buy, citing better than expected salmon spot prices in Europe and the U.S.
AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) advanced 3.3 percent to 3,236 pence, its highest price since October 2010. The U.K.’s second-biggest drugmaker gained credibility on plans to reshape research and development and return to growth, Morgan Stanley analyst Peter Verdult wrote in a note following yesterday’s investor meeting.
BP Plc rose 1.9 percent to 457.7 pence. The oil company will buy back $8 billion of shares from investors after completing the sale of 50 percent of Russian oil producer TNK- BP.
MAN lost 2.6 percent to 84.80 euros. VW, Europe’s largest carmaker, will offer other holders of MAN stock 80.89 euros per share in a bid for full control of the company. VW, which already owns 75.03 percent of the Munich-based company’s voting rights, will set the final cash offer after it receives valuation reports from auditors, MAN said yesterday. Volkswagen added 0.8 percent to 156.55 euros.
Mulberry (MUL) plunged 17 percent to 1,024 pence. The company said that lower tourist spending in London will reduce pretax profit for the year ending March 31 to about 26 million pounds ($39.5 million) from 36 million pounds. The average estimate of three analysts compiled by Bloomberg was 30.7 million pounds.
Hochtief AG, Germany’s largest builder, slid 5.3 percent to 51.41 euros. Leighton Holdings Ltd. Chairman Stephen Johns and two non-executive directors resigned from the board of Australia’s largest construction company, citing a dispute with its controlling shareholder Hochtief.
Homeserve Plc (HSV), the U.K. repair-service provider being investigated by the Financial Services Authority, slid 5.2 percent to 211.4 pence after saying it will cuts jobs in the U.K., where it’s losing customers.
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