German stocks fell, with the DAX Index posting the biggest weekly drop since January, as the euro strengthened and investors weighed data that showed U.S. hiring accelerated even as the unemployment rate rose in the world’s largest economy.
Fresenius SE led German health-care shares lower. Continental AG declined 3.2 percent after Commerzbank AG reduced its rating for Europe’s second-biggest maker of car parts. Krones AG (KRN) climbed the most in almost a year after UBS AG recommended buying the world’s largest maker of filling and packaging machines’ shares.
The DAX lost 2 percent to 9,350.75 at the close of trading in Frankfurt. The gauge closed little changed yesterday as the European Central Bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low. It declined 3.5 percent this week. The broader HDAX Index slid 1.9 percent today.
“The strong euro is weighing on markets, especially on the German market as a world champion exporter,” said Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland. “The U.S. data has come in great and it’s a big positive. But for European markets, the euro and the still unresolved situation in Ukraine are more pressing problems, and hence investors are going to wait and see what happens after the weekend.”
The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 16 percent higher than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The euro rose to the highest in more than two years versus the dollar today, extending a fifth weekly advance against the greenback, as expectations for further European Central Bank stimulus waned, boosting demand for the 18-nation currency.
A Labor Department report showed that U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs in February, after hiring 129,000 people in January. The median forecast of 92 economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for a gain to 149,000. Unemployment rose to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent.
Fresenius slid 2.1 percent to 107.60 euros and Qiagen NV slipped 2.3 percent to 15.70 euros. A gauge of European health-care companies was among the worst performers among the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index after Sweden’s Getinge AB forecast first-quarter pretax profit that was a quarter of the average analyst estimate.
Continental declined 3.2 percent to 177.20 euros. Commerzbank cut the stock to hold from buy, saying investors should take profit amid limited upside.
Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank AG, the country’s largest lenders, slid 3 percent to 12.75 euros and 2.7 percent to 33.90 euros, respectively, dragging the DAX lower.
Krones rallied 5.9 percent to 64.97 euros. UBS raised the shares to buy from neutral, citing the stock’s losses relative to the benchmarks. The shares dropped 1.8 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 0.9 percent gain for the Stoxx 600 Industrial Goods and Services Index.
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