U.K. stocks were little changed, with the FTSE 100 (UKX) Index heading for the biggest quarterly gain since 2011, as better-than-estimated German retail sales offset concern the euro-area debt crisis will deepen.
Johnson Matthey Plc (JMAT) advanced 3.6 percent after saying it bought Sweden’s Formox AB. A gauge of London-listed mining companies fell 0.9 percent, led by Centamin Plc and Eurasian Natural Resources Corp.
The FTSE 100 slipped 4.3 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 6,383.26 at 9:20 a.m. in London. The benchmark gauge has gained 8.3 percent this quarter as U.S. lawmakers agreed on a compromise budget and reports on jobs and housing fueled optimism the world’s biggest economy is recovering. The FTSE 100 is heading for a monthly gain of 0.4 percent.
The broader FTSE All-Share Index was little changed today, while Ireland’s ISEQ Index gained 0.3 percent. The number of shares changing hands in companies on the FTSE 100 was limited before the Easter holiday in the U.K. and Europe. Volume was 18 percent lower than the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
In Germany, retail sales unexpectedly rose in February. Sales, adjusted for inflation and seasonal swings, climbed 0.4 percent from January, when they gained a revised 3 percent, the Federal Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had forecast a 0.6 percent decline last month.
Italy’s Pier Luigi Bersani, who has been given the first opportunity to form a coalition government after last month’s inconclusive elections, will today report to President Giorgio Napolitano with the results of his negotiations.
In Cyprus, banks will open for the first time in almost two weeks, employing new capital-control rules that were the condition for a bailout from international creditors. Banks will open at midday and close at 6 p.m. local time, Yiangos Dimitriou, head of the audit department at the Central Bank of Cyprus, said yesterday.
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