European stocks were little changed, paring earlier losses in the last hour of trading and closing at its highest level since January 2008.
Jyske Bank A/S (JYSK) rallied 11 percent after buying BRFkredit A/S. Vivendi SA (VIV), the French company preparing to spin off its phone business SFR, slipped 1.1 percent after posting fourth-quarter revenue that missed analysts’ estimates. Fresenius Medical Care AG slumped 5.7 percent after the world’s biggest provider of kidney dialysis forecast a decline in 2014 profit.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained less than 0.1 percent to 338.39 at the close of trading in London after earlier falling as much as 0.5 percent. The gauge has advanced 4.9 percent this month, following a 1.8 percent decline in January, as Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen pledged to continue her predecessor’s stimulus policies to support the U.S. economy.
“Stocks are left vulnerable for pullbacks,” said Witold Bahrke, who helps oversee $55 billion as a senior strategist at PFA Asset Management in Copenhagen. “Risk is more biased to the downside now as we are approaching new highs.”
In the U.S., a report showed that the S&P/Case-Shiller index of property prices in 20 cities climbed 13.4 percent in December from December 2012 after a 13.7 percent gain in the year ended in November. That is in line with the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey.
Separate data showed that a gauge of confidence among U.S. consumers fell to 78.1 this month from 79.4 in January.
In China, the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 2 percent and the yuan weakened the most since November 2010 on concern that a weaker property market will crimp growth. The nation’s central bank is draining funds from the financial system as lower money-market rates signal ample supplies of yuan amid a government drive to clean up risky lending practices.
Jyske Bank rallied 11 percent to 339.30 kroner. Denmark’s second-largest listed bank agreed to buy BRFkredit for about 7.4 billion kroner ($1.36 billion) yesterday. The acquisition creates a financial conglomerate that rivals Nykredit Realkredit A/S, the country’s biggest lender and Europe’s biggest issuer of mortgage-backed covered bonds.
St. James’s Place Plc climbed 5.1 percent to 835 pence, its highest price since at least January 1991. The British wealth manager increased its full-year dividend by 50 percent and said it will seek to raise it again this year after reporting record funds under management.
CRH Plc jumped 7.1 percent to 21.82 euros, its highest price since April 2010. The Irish builder said net debt climbed to 2.97 billion euros ($4.1 billion) in 2013 from the prior year’s restated 2.9 billion euros. That was less than the company’s Nov. 12 forecast for 3.2 billion euros.
Straumann Holding AG (STMN) gained 3.2 percent to 189.80 Swiss francs. The world’s biggest maker of dental implants reported 2013 earnings before interest and taxes of 115.8 million francs ($130.4 million), up from 63.1 million francs a year earlier. The company forecast its revenue will rise in a low-single-digit range in 2014.
Vivendi declined 1.1 percent to 20.02 euros. Sales in the fourth quarter fell 4.6 percent to 5.95 billion euros, trailing the 6.03 billion-euro average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg.
Fresenius Medical Care dropped 5.7 percent to 49.82 euros. The company expects net income will be between $1 billion and $1.05 billion this year compared to $1.1 billion in 2013 as governments reduce health spending. The high end of the forecast range is lower than the $1.19 billion average of estimates.
Parent company Fresenius SE slid 4.2 percent to 114.05 euros. It forecast adjusted net income will rise 2 percent to 5 percent in 2014, excluding currency shifts, slowing from last year’s 14 percent growth rate.
Aixtron SE declined 6.8 percent to 11.59 euros. The German maker of equipment for semiconductors reported fourth-quarter sales of 51.1 million euros, missing the 53.4 million euros analysts had projected. The company also posted a loss for earnings before interest and taxes of 12.6 million euros, compared with the 7.7 million-euro loss analysts had estimated.
Ashmore Group Plc (ASHM) sank 6.5 percent to 317.8 pence after the U.K. emerging-markets money manager reported $2.9 billion of net outflows in its fiscal first half as investors sought to avoid assets in developing economies. Pretax profit slumped 34 percent to 79.5 million pounds ($133 million) in the six months to Dec. 31 from a year earlier.
Rio Tinto Group dropped 2.8 percent to 3,439 pence and Anglo American Plc fell 2.2 percent to 1,500.5 pence. A gauge of European mining companies posted the worst performance of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. Vedanta Resources Plc lost 3.4 percent to 839 pence.
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