German stocks closed almost unchanged as China raised interest rates for the fourth time since the global financial crisis and a measure of U.S. service industries fell.
Bayer AG sank the most in nine months as a study showed its experimental pill Xarelto led to a higher risk of bleeding. Siemens AG (SIE) dropped as Europe’s largest engineering company said growth may slow in the second half. Infineon Technologies AG (IFX) jumped after Texas Instruments Inc. agreed to buy National Semiconductor Corp. Wacker Chemie AG (WCH) fell as Commerzbank AG downgraded the stock.
The benchmark DAX Index (DAX) slipped 0.02 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 7,175.31 at the 5:30 p.m. close in Frankfurt. The gauge has climbed 10 percent from this year’s low on March 16 amid speculation the global economic recovery will withstand Japan’s worst earthquake on record and popular revolts in the Middle East and northern Africa. The broader HDAX Index also fell less than 0.1 percent today.
“There is still no end in sight in regard to how many more times rates will be raised in China,” said Markus Huber, head of German sales trading at ETX Capital in London. “With commodity prices continuing to go up, China is forced to act as inflation will go up too.”
In China, the benchmark one-year lending rate will increase to 6.31 percent from 6.06 percent, effective tomorrow, the People’s Bank of China said today. The one-year deposit rate will rise to 3.25 percent from 3 percent.
U.S. Service Industries
In the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management’s index of non-manufacturing businesses decreased to 57.3 in March from 59.7 a month earlier. The median forecast of 69 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected the measure would be little changed at 59.5. A reading above 50 signals growth.
European retail sales unexpectedly declined in February. Sales in the 17-nation euro region slipped 0.1 percent from January, when they advanced 0.2 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Economists forecast a 0.1 percent gain, the median of 18 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey showed. Sales rose 0.1 percent on the year.
Portugal’s Credit Rating
Portugal’s credit rating was cut by Moody’s Investors Service, which said the government will probably seek a European bailout. Moody’s downgraded Portugal’s long-term government bond ratings by one notch to Baa1 from A3, and said the rating remains under review for another possible downgrade.
Bayer, Germany’s largest drugmaker, plummeted 3.6 percent to 54.65 euros, the biggest decline since June. An analysis found giving Xarelto for more than 10 days cut clots in the legs and lungs by 23 percent, according to the study. Longer use more than doubled the risk of major bleeding compared with patients given a placebo after the standard 10 days of treatment with Sanofi-Aventis SA’s Lovenox.
Siemens lost 1.3 percent to 96.87 euros. “We expect the growth rate to ease,” Chief Financial Officer Joe Kaeser said on a call with analysts today. The company said earnings in the quarter that just ended were burdened by a “disappointing” renewable energy division.
Infineon, Europe’s second-biggest chipmaker, gained 3.9 percent to 7.75 euros, the highest close in four weeks. Texas Instruments agreed to buy National Semiconductor for about $6.5 billion, its biggest acquisition, to expand its analog semiconductors business. Dialog Semiconductor Plc (DLG) soared 4.6 percent to 15.60 euros.
Wacker Chemie slid 1.6 percent to 165.30 euros, the first decline this month, as the chemicals maker was downgraded to “add” from “buy” at Commerzbank.
Vossloh AG dropped 1.3 percent to 98.33 euros after the company said Blackrock Inc.’s voting rights fell below the 3 percent threshold and amounted to 2.99 percent as of March 29.
TUI AG (TUI1) surged 3 percent to 8.78 euros, the biggest advance since December. The owner of Europe’s largest tour operator is in advanced talks to sell stakes in container line Hapag-Lloyd to a state fund in Oman and Chinese logistics firm HNA Group, a person with knowledge of the matter said. TUI may sell as much as 30 percent of Hapag to the investors, said the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The talks were reported earlier by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
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