European Stocks Are Little Changed as Vodafone Advances
European stocks were little changed as Vodafone Group Plc led telecommunications shares higher and as investors waited for a U.S. Senate committee to vote on a resolution enabling President Barack Obama to attack Syria.
Vodafone added 2.2 percent as it rebounded from yesterday’s biggest drop in two months. Ryanair slumped the most in more than five years after Europe’s largest discount airline said full-year profit may fall short of its forecast range. ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG lost 5 percent after a holding company for investments owned by KKR & Co. and Permira Advisers LLP said it is selling shares in the broadcaster.
The Stoxx 600 added 0.2 percent to 302.34 at the close of trading, after earlier declining as much as 0.7 percent. The gauge lost 2.4 percent last week on concern the U.S. and its allies would take military action following suspected chemical-weapon attacks on Aug. 21 that the Obama administration said killed more than 1,400 people.
“You have a lot of risk in the coming weeks with the situation in Syria,” Guillaume Duchesne, an equity strategist at BGL BNP Paribas SA in Luxembourg, said by telephone. “On the macro picture in Europe, the view was so negative over the last few years. We don’t expect big negative figures again, but only flat figures. For financial markets, that’s good news.”
A Eurostat report today confirmed that second-quarter gross domestic product in the 17-nation euro area grew 0.3 percent from the previous three-month period. That matched the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes on a resolution that restricts the use of force by the U.S. military against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to 90 days. The proposals explicitly fail to authorize the use of ground troops in combat. The Senate’s Democratic leadership supports the resolution, according to an aide who asked not to be identified commenting before a vote.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 12 of the 18 western-European markets today. France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX gained 0.2 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent. The number of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600-listed companies was 12 percent greater than the average of the past 30 days, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.
Italy’s FTSE MIB Index declined 1.4 percent as the Repubblica newspaper reported that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may consider withdrawing his support for the coalition government.
Vodafone rose 2.2 percent to 207 pence. The mobile-phone operator yesterday fell 5 percent after confirming that it will sell its 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless to Verizon Communications Inc.
Finmeccanica SpA gained 3.6 percent to 4.05 euros. Italy’s largest aerospace company and U.S. private-equity firm First Reserve agreed on the terms to sell a majority stake in power-plant construction unit Ansaldo Energia SpA to South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified source with direct knowledge of the situation.
SAS Group rallied 10 percent to 14.80 kronor. The Nordic region’s largest airline exceeded its profitability target in its fiscal third quarter, helped by lower payroll costs and higher passenger revenue. Profit before tax rose 54 percent to 1.12 billion kronor ($170 million) in the three months through July. Nordea Equity Research had estimated 1.05 billion kronor.
Ryanair slumped 13 percent to 5.87 euros. The Dublin-based company said that full-year net income may fall short of its forecast range of 570 million euros ($753 million) to 600 million euros. Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said greater competition on prices and increased capacity had contributed to lower fares in September, October and November.
EasyJet Plc, Europe’s second-biggest discount airline, sank 5.1 percent to 1,215 pence. An index of travel and leisure companies lost 1.6 percent, the largest decline of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600.
ProSiebenSat.1 dropped 5 percent to 30.68 euros. KKR and Permira are selling a stake valued at more than 760 million euros through Lavena, a holding company. The private-equity investors will still hold about 33 percent of ProSiebenSat.1 after the sale. Lavena said it is selling the 25 million shares through an accelerated bookbuild.
Iliad SA fell 2.7 percent to 179 euros. Xavier Niel, the founder of the French low-cost mobile-phone carrier, sold a 3 percent stake valued at about 320 million euros based on yesterday’s closing price. Niel still has a controlling holding of 55.3 percent, Paris-based Iliad said in a statement.
Delhaize Group retreated 7.5 percent to 46 euros, its biggest drop since May 2012. The owner of the Food Lion supermarket chain said Frans Muller will take over as chief executive officer on Nov. 8. The retailer also announced that Roland Smith has resigned as the CEO of Delhaize America. Exane BNP Paribas SA’s Andrew Gwynn wrote that the shares may fall because Smith has left the company’s U.S. subsidiary.
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