European stocks were little changed, after rallying yesterday by the most in eight months, as data showed the region’s services output expanded faster than estimated while U.S. hiring missed projections.
Subsea 7 SA tumbled the most since June after posting fourth-quarter profit that missed analysts’ forecast. Melrose Industries Plc (MRO) tumbled 7.8 percent after Numis Securities Ltd. advised investors to sell the stock. Admiral Group (ADM) Plc rose 7.5 percent, for the highest price in 2 1/2 years.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped less than 0.1 percent to 337.06 at the close in London. The benchmark gauge gained 2.1 percent yesterday as investors speculated that the military standoff in Ukraine will not lead to war.
“Investors may have completely missed any economic data over the last couple of days and we may see a return of focus to that,” Lorne Baring, who manages about $500 million as managing director of B Capital in Geneva, said. “After yesterday’s massive relief rally, it’s expected that the market may flip flop around, looking for direction. What we’re all looking for is some kind of regaining of composure, so we can get back to thinking about the fundamentals of markets.”
The number of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600-listed companies was 35 percent higher than the 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg for this time of day.
A purchasing managers’ index for euro-area services industries rose to 52.6 in February, higher than a provisional reading of 51.7, Markit Economics said. Similar gauges showed services in Germany and the U.K. expanded faster than estimated. Italian services swung from contraction to expansion last month, separate data showed.
A report from the ADP Research Institute showed that American companies added 139,000 workers in February, lower than economists’ estimate of 155,000 and the 127,000 recruited the previous month.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris to reduce tensions over Ukraine a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said he saw no immediate need to invade the neighboring country. Kerry unveiled $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine’s cash-strapped government during his Kiev visit.
Benchmark indexes fell in seven of the 18 markets in western Europe. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slid 0.7 percent, Germany’s DAX dropped 0.5 percent and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.1 percent.
Subsea 7 SA declined 7.8 percent to 108 kroner. The offshore oil-services provider said fourth-quarter net income totaled $72 million, trailing the $105 million analysts had predicted.
Melrose Industries, an investment vehicle which owns manufacturing companies, slumped 7.8 percent to 302.4 pence. Numis cut the stock to reduce from hold, citing the company’s valuation. Melrose closed at 16.6 times estimated earnings, compared with 18 times earnings at the close of trading yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Lonmin Plc, the third-largest platinum producer, slid 2.4 percent to 293.9 pence. The world’s third-largest platinum producer said it won’t meet its full-year sales target of at least 750,000 ounces because of a strike. More than 70,000 members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union have been on strike since Jan. 23 in South Africa, which accounts for more than 70 percent of platinum production.
Jupiter Fund Management Plc (JUP) fell 5.3 percent to 405.8 pence. TA Associates Inc., which invested in the London-based company before its initial public offering in 2010, sold its remaining 10.6 percent stake.
Admiral Group rose 7.5 percent to 1,526 pence, the highest price since August 2011, after the U.K. motor insurer posted 2013 pretax profit of 370.2 million pounds ($619 million), exceeding the 363.7 million-pound estimate of analysts.
Carrefour SA (CA) advanced 4.4 percent to 27.83 euros after France’s largest retailer posted recurring operating income of 2.24 billion euros ($3.08 billion) for 2013, exceeding the 2.20 billion euros analysts had projected. The company may sell shares in the Brazilian unit to local investors, Chief Executive Officer Georges Plassat said.
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