European Stocks Little Changed as U.S. Jobless Decline

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Photographer: Ralph Orlowski/Bloomberg

A financial trader reacts as he works at his computer screens at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Frankfurt.

European stocks were unchanged as data showing the number of Americans filing jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week offset investor concern that budget wrangling in Washington will lead to a government shutdown.

Ladbrokes (LAD) Plc plunged to its lowest price in almost a year after issuing a profit warning for its digital division. Thomas Cook Group Plc slid 6.6 percent after it said winter bookings have slowed. Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB), Europe’s second-biggest clothing retailer, rose to its highest price after posting third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was unchanged at 313.02 at the close of trading. The gauge has dropped 0.4 percent so far this week amid concern that U.S. politicians will fail to approve a federal budget for the new financial year. It has still climbed 5.3 percent in September as the Federal Reserve refrained from reducing its monthly asset purchases, and has surged 9.8 percent since the end of June, heading for the biggest quarterly gain in four years.

“Markets clearly hate uncertainty and the U.S. debt ceiling coupled with when the Fed is going to taper are clearly two areas of concern,” Stephane Ekolo, chief European strategist at Market Securities in London, wrote in a message. “Given the good run the markets have experienced, it is normal to pause a little.”

The volume of shares changing hands in companies listed on the Stoxx 600 was 24 percent greater than the average of the past 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Data

In the U.S., jobless claims decreased by 5,000 to 305,000 in the week ended Sept. 21, a Labor Department report showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an increase to 325,000.

Gross domestic product in the world’s largest economy rose at a 2.5 percent annualized rate, unrevised from the previous estimate, after expanding 1.1 percent in the first quarter, Commerce Department figures showed today. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 2.6 percent pace.

U.S. lawmakers have until Monday to agree to an emergency budget to keep the federal government operating from Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year, through Dec. 15. Failure to pass the bill may lead to a government shutdown.

National benchmark indexes advanced in 10 of the 18 western-European markets. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent, Germany’s DAX fell less than 0.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 Index dropped 0.2 percent.

Italian Decline

Italy’s FTSE MIB slid 1.2 percent amid concern the coalition government will collapse after former Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s allies threatened to step down if he is expelled from the Senate as a result of his conviction for tax fraud.

Ladbrokes plunged 7.6 percent to 173.8 pence, dropping for an eighth day. The chain of bookmakers said 2013 operating profit for its digital division will be below current market expectations because of a lack of competitiveness and lower-than-planned margins.

Thomas Cook (TCG) lost 6.6 percent to 145.3 pence, its biggest decline since Sept. 5. The tour operator said winter bookings started more slowly than last year across most markets due to geopolitical events and warm weather in Europe.

Colruyt SA (COLR) fell 4 percent to 42.31 euros. Belgium’s largest discount food retailer forecast full-year net income of about 369 million euros ($498 million) compared with analysts’ estimates of 381.2 million euros.

Mapfre SA (MAP) slid 3.1 percent to 2.67 euros. Bankia SA sold a 12 percent stake, or 369.6 million shares, in Spain’s biggest insurer.

Centrica Slides

Centrica Plc (CNA), the largest energy supplier to U.K. homes, lost 2.3 percent to 366.9 pence. JPMorgan Chase & Co. downgraded the shares to neutral from overweight, citing proposals from Britain’s Labour Party to freeze energy bills and break up the country’s six biggest power suppliers.

Royal DSM NV (DSM) slid 5.4 percent to 55.13 euros. The company that spent $3.2 billion on nutrition-ingredient acquisitions said profit this year may fall short of an initial target because of stagnant markets in Europe and lower chemical prices.

ICAP Plc (IAP) dropped 2.1 percent to 380.3 pence, taking its two-day decline to 3.9 percent. The shares fell yesterday after U.K. and U.S. authorities fined the broker $88 million on charges of rigging key interest rates.

H&M gained 6.7 percent to 281.70 kronor. Third-quarter profit increased 22 percent to 4.43 billion kronor ($690 million) in the three months ended Aug. 31, Stockholm-based H&M said in a statement. That compares with the 4.15 billion-kronor average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Alcatel Advances

Alcatel Lucent SA (ALU) jumped 6.3 percent to 2.69 euros. Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), which is set to become a manufacturer focusing on wireless networks after the sale of its handset business, is evaluating a linkup with the French company, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Finnish company is considering options including a combination with Alcatel-Lucent’s wireless-network unit, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the plans are confidential. No talks are under way, said the people.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S rose 7.9 percent to 133.10 kroner, its highest price since June 2011, after the Danish turbine maker won an order for 200 wind turbines in Texas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at astoukas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

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